Arkansas – Hospitalizations, ventilator use and active cases declined in Thursday’s report from the Arkansas Department of Health, but the number of school districts with high infection rates among district residents again set a new record.
The ADH report showed 2,491 new confirmed and probable cases in the previous 24 hours, bringing the cumulative total to 264,511. Active confirmed and probable cases fell by 355 to 24,740, and deaths rose by 42 to 4,228. Ventilator use fell by 14 to 241.
Hospitalizations fell by 67 to 1,295. Monday’s number of 1,371 hospitalizations was a record. The ADH also reported 60 available ICU beds as of 2 p.m. Thursday, up from 51 on Wednesday.
“Today’s report shows over 800 fewer cases with higher testing than this time last week. We also saw a decrease in hospitalizations and ventilator usage. This will relieve some of the strain on our health care system as we continue to distribute vaccine doses,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement.
The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement reported Thursday that 201 Arkansas school districts – 86% of the state’s districts, a new high – have COVID-19 infection rates of 50 or more new known infections per 10,000 district residents over a 14-day period, up from 179 a week ago. Of those districts, a record high of 54 have 14-day COVID-19 infection rates of 100 or more new known infections per 10,000 district residents, or more than 1% of local residents.
ACHI identified school districts with high infection rates by analyzing ADH data received Monday. The infections are among community residents living within the geographical boundaries of the school districts and are not specific to school employees and students.
“We are seeing the impact of the holidays on communities across the state. Fifty-four school districts now have more than 1% of their population newly infected in the past 14 days, putting pressure on our schools and healthcare system,” ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson noted in a press release. “We are still early in the process of getting Arkansans immunized against this disease. Get the shot when your turn comes, but in the meantime, do your part: wash your hands often, keep 6 feet away from people who are not members of your household, and mask up.”