Arkansas Covid hospitalizations drop to 2-year low; cases increase by 134
In another break from a recent upward trend, Arkansas recorded a smaller increase in coronavirus cases on Tuesday from a week earlier, with the number of patients infected with the virus in hospitals across the state falling. fell to a new low in two years.
The state’s death toll from the virus, as tracked by the Department of Health, rose by four, to 11,398.
The number of cases in the state rose by 134, more than double the increase a day earlier but 78 lower than the previous Tuesday.
Down for the third day in a row, the number of covid-19 patients in state hospitals fell by seven, to 41, dipping below this year’s previous low of 46 hit on April 19, April 24 and Thursday .
This was the lowest tally of patients hospitalized with covid-19 since March 26, 2020.
After rising the previous three days, the state’s average daily case count increase over a rolling seven-day period fell to 124, from an average of 127 per day the previous week.
The state’s new cases have generally trended higher for a few days after Easter, although they have dropped on some days.
“It’s too early to tell whether this is a downward slope or not,” Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, chief medical officer for the Health Department, said of the state’s new cases on Tuesday.
“We’ll have to see what the rest of the week does, but it’s comforting to know we have at least one day trending down.”
She said the low number of hospitalized patients likely reflected the number of Arkansans who had some protection after being vaccinated or previously infected, including the hundreds of thousands who were infected during the omicron surge this winter.
“At the moment we have a large part of the population that has some immunity, and I think that will help us, of course, until that immunity subsides or we have a variant that enters the state. who is able to escape this immunity,” she said.
She said two of the deaths reported on Tuesday occurred within the past month. Of the others, one dated from February and the other from early April.
With new cases outnumbering recoveries, the number of cases in the state considered active rose by five, to 1,511. That was still down from the recent high of 1,567 cases that were active on Sunday. .
After rising a day earlier, the number of virus patients in the state who were on ventilators fell by one, to 13. The number of people in intensive care, which rose by two on Monday, remained Tuesday at 5 p.m.
At its hospitals in Little Rock and Springdale, Arkansas Children’s had three patients with Covid-19 on Tuesday, up from four on Monday, spokeswoman Hilary DeMillo said.
Dillaha said Tuesday that the state had two identified cases of an omicron subvariant known as BA.5, which, along with another subvariant known as BA.4, has been blamed for a recent spike in cases in South Africa.
“It’s worrying because [South Africa is] see an increase in cases and hospitalizations,” Dillaha said.
“It is difficult to say yet if the increase in hospitalizations is simply due to the increase in the number of cases” or if the new subvariants are causing people to be hospitalized at a higher rate, she said. .
Another concern, she said, is that “there are early indications that these variants are able to at least partially escape the immunity provided by the initial omicron variant.”
She said the two BA.5 cases that were discovered in Arkansas occurred in the second half of March. The Department of Health has not been notified of any BA.4 cases in the state, she said.
The vast majority of cases in the United States in recent weeks have been caused by a different subvariant of omicron, BA.2, including an increasing percentage that has been caused by the BA.2 strain known as of BA.2.12.1.
According to estimates from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated Tuesday, 36.5% of cases nationwide last week were caused by BA.2.12.1, compared to 26.6% the week former.
CASES BY COUNTY
Pulaski County recorded the most new cases, 33, on Tuesday, followed by Benton County with 16 and Washington County with 14.
The state’s cumulative case count since March 2020 has risen to 836,117.
The tally of doses of vaccines administered by the Ministry of Health rose by 1,608, the fifth consecutive daily increase lower than the previous week.
Almost half of the most recent increase came from doses classified on the Department of Health’s coronavirus dashboard as having no “dose number available”. This is how the department lists the second booster doses, which were authorized in March for people aged 50 or over or with weakened immune systems.
The number of doses for people receiving the vaccine for the first time increased by 338, 171 less than the increase in the first doses a week earlier.
The average number of total doses administered each day over a rolling seven-day period fell to 1,950, its lowest level since the week ending April 5.
The average for the first doses fell to 440, which was again higher than the average for the previous week.
According to the CDC, the percentage of Arkansans who had received at least one dose remained at 66.7% as of Tuesday, and the percentage who were fully vaccinated remained at 54.4%.
Among those who were fully vaccinated, the percentage who received a booster dose remained at 39.7%.
Among states and the District of Columbia, Arkansas continued to rank 37th in the percentage of its residents who received at least one dose and 46th – ahead of Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Wyoming and Alabama – for percentage fully immunized. .
Nationally, 77.7% of people had received at least one dose and 66.2% were fully vaccinated.
Of the nationally fully vaccinated population, 45.9% had received a booster dose.