Arkansas reports 1,180 new covid cases on Wednesday, marking the first week-over-week decline in six days

In a break from a recent spike tied to the start of the 2022-23 school year, the number of coronavirus cases in Arkansas rose by 1,180 on Wednesday, the first daily increase in six days that was lower than that of a week earlier.

After dropping by six a day earlier, the number of people hospitalized in the state with covid-19 remained at 318 on Wednesday.

The state’s death toll from the virus, as tracked by the Department of Health, rose by eight, to 11,918.

Department of Health spokeswoman Katie White said all of the deaths reported on Wednesday occurred more than a month ago.

One death occurred in December, two in February, one in May, two in June and two in July, she said.

Wednesday’s increase in cases was more than 200 lower than Tuesday’s and 51 lower than the previous Wednesday.

After rising the previous five days, the state’s average daily increase in the number of cases over a rolling seven-day period fell to 966 on Wednesday, which was still up from an average of 893 a day the previous day. previous week.

State health officials said the recent slight upward trend in the number of new cases in the state, coinciding with the start of the school year, was primarily due to transmission among people aged 18 years and under.

Infections in children, who make up about 23% of the state’s population, accounted for 34% of the cases added to the state’s tally Wednesday.

“Hopefully we turn a corner, but we’ll have to see what the next week or two shows before we know for sure,” White said in an email.

Pulaski County had the most new cases, 129, on Wednesday, followed by Craighead County with 87 and Washington County with 73.

The state’s cumulative case count since March 2020 has risen to 932,639.

Growing for the second day in a row, the number of cases in the state considered active rose Wednesday by 287, to 11,519, as new cases outpaced recoveries.

Wednesday’s total was the largest since August 14.

Down for the third day in a row, the number of patients infected with the state’s virus who were in intensive care fell by six, to 45, the lowest number since July 11.

Already at its lowest level since July 11, the number of ventilators fell by one, to 11.

At its hospitals in Little Rock and Springdale, Arkansas Children’s had 16 covid-19 patients on Wednesday, up from 19 on Tuesday, spokeswoman Hilary DeMillo said.

UPDATED BOOSTER

Meanwhile, White said Arkansas had submitted “pre-orders” for 46,400 doses of the updated Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that the US Food and Drug Administration cleared Wednesday for use as booster doses.

The state requested 24,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which was licensed for people 12 and older, and 21,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine, which was licensed for ages 18 and older.

The two vaccines, which target the original strain of coronavirus as well as two strains of the omicron variant that are now responsible for most infections, have been authorized as boosters for fully vaccinated people who have received their last booster or serial dose. primary at least two months earlier.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it expects shipments to begin “immediately” after the vaccines are cleared by the FDA, though vaccinations won’t begin until the CDC n would not have issued recommendations on the use of vaccines.

A CDC advisory committee is due to meet today on the proposed recommendations.

White said Arkansas’ request for doses was submitted to the federal government this week during the second “wave” of pre-orders.

She said doses are expected to start arriving in the state on September 8.

Another health department spokeswoman, Danyelle McNeill, said in an email that the department did not request any doses during the first wave of pre-orders. Doses requested during this wave would have started arriving on Tuesday of next week, White said.

“We were still collecting pre-orders” from vendors during the window to submit first-wave applications, McNeill said.

Arkansas was allowed to pre-order up to 21,500 doses of Moderna boosters and 56,100 from Pfizer.

White said Arkansas’ pre-orders for both types of vaccines were based on requests received from health care providers.

“We have placed pre-orders which we have received and will continue to place orders for both types of vaccines as we receive them,” White said.

The pre-ordered doses include 10,200 from Pfizer and 8,600 from Moderna which will go to local health units of the Department of Health, who redistribute some of these doses to other health units as well as to pharmacies of other healthcare providers. health.

Premier Pharmacy Care, which serves nursing homes and assisted living facilities, will receive a total of 11,000 doses of Moderna.

Other doses pre-ordered included 2,000 doses of Moderna and 1,200 doses of Pfizer that will go to Kavanaugh Pharmacy in Little Rock, 2,700 doses of Pfizer and 300 doses of Moderna that will go to Northwest Medical Center in Bentonville.

Other doses of Pfizer pre-ordered include 1,800 for Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas in Rogers, 4,200 for Arkansas Children’s, 600 for St. Bernards Medical Center in Jonesboro, and a total of 4,200 doses of Pfizer for Baptist Health facilities in Little Rock and Fort Smith.

Like local health units, hospitals and the Kavanaugh Pharmacy will redistribute some of the doses to other providers, White said.

Outside of the state vaccination program, additional doses will be shipped to veterans hospitals and other federal entities and stores participating in the federal retail pharmacy program for COVID-19 vaccination.

For example, Arkansas pharmacies belonging to the Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network requested a total of 16,800 doses of Pfizer and 4,400 doses of Moderna through the federal program, said John Vinson, chief executive of the ‘Arkansas Pharmacists Association.

At Kavanaugh Pharmacy, which receives doses through state and federal programs, co-owner Anne Pace said she plans to have additional staff working next week to help with the rollout.

“I expect, at least for the first two weeks or so, pretty decent demand,” she said.

Unlike the early days of the vaccination effort, however, she doesn’t expect people to face long waits to get vaccinated.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of vaccines, so people should be able to get it from a lot of different places,” Pace said.

“I anticipate that we will be able to meet the demand.”

Meanwhile, after the FDA on Wednesday withdrew its authorization to use the original versions of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as boosters, Pace said his pharmacy had stopped administering boosters for people 12 and older until until the updated vaccines arrive next week.

Since an updated vaccine has not yet been authorized for children under 12, a low-dose version of Pfizer’s original vaccine remains authorized as a booster for children aged 5 to 11 who have completed their first two-dose primary series at least five months ago. .

White said the Department of Health will “work to notify providers” of the change.

“Bivalent boosters are not expected to be available in Arkansas until late next week at the earliest,” White said, referring to the updated vaccines authorized Wednesday.

“Booster appointments for those aged 12 and older should be rescheduled when the bivalent vaccine becomes available.”

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