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State's key covid indicators return to mid-March levels

by Andy Davis | June 17, 2021 at 6:28 p.m.
Barbara McDonald, an advanced practice registered nurse for UAMS, screens patients Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020 during a drive-thru covid-19 testing at the Lonoke Community Center. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

The number of covid-19 patients in Arkansas hospitals, on ventilators and in intensive care units all rose to their highest levels Thursday since mid-March, while the state's count of cases rose by 288.

With new cases outpacing recoveries, the number of cases in the state that were considered active topped 2,300 for the first time since March 22.

The state's death toll from the virus, as tracked by the Arkansas Department of Health, rose by two, to 5,869.

"Our new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to increase," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a tweet. "We have seen the effect that vaccines have on both of these numbers, and we know these vaccines work. It’s critical that Arkansans continue to get the vaccine to help control this virus."

The number of virus patients in the state's hospitals rose by eight, to 219, while the number who were on ventilators rose by six, to 56.

The number of covid-19 patients in intensive care units rose by four, to 116.

It was the highest level since March 19 for the number hospitalized, since March 16 for the number on ventilators, and since March 17 for the number in intensive care units.

Back then, the state's case numbers were trending downward after peaking in January.

More recently, however, they have been ticking up. Health officials say possible causes include infections of unvaccinated people during gatherings over Memorial Day weekend, the spread of more-transmissible variants, and the lifting of mask requirements and other preventative measures.

The increase in total cases on Thursday, however, was smaller by one than the one the previous Thursday, making it the first daily case increase in eight days that was smaller than the one a week earlier.

It was exactly the same size as the increase in cases on Wednesday.

A day after rising to its highest level in almost three months, the average daily increase in the state's case count over a rolling seven-day period remained essentially unchanged as of Thursday, at 247.

The number of cases that were considered active rose by 83, to 2,334.

Meanwhile, the increase in the number of vaccine doses Arkansas providers reported having administered, including second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, was at 5,388 on Thursday. That's smaller by 993 than the increase the previous Thursday.

The average number of doses administered each day over a rolling seven-day period fell to just over 5,100, down from more than 5,700 a day the previous week.

The average number of administered vaccine doses peaked at more than 23,000 a day in early April before declining to a recent low of fewer than 4,700 a day the week ending June 5.

More details in Friday's Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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