Mixed news on virus: State’s daily cases declining but deaths near 700
By Scott Loftis
Arkansas saw its smallest daily increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in almost seven weeks Monday.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced at a news conference in Little Rock that 320 Arkansans had tested positive for the virus in the previous 24 hours — the smallest single-day increase since July 7, when there were 259 new cases.
Although there were 887 new cases reported Friday, the state’s daily average of new cases starting Tuesday, Aug. 18, has been 545.3.
“That continues to be going in the right direction,” Hutchinson said.
While the average number of new cases reported daily is on the decline, a total of 93 deaths from the virus were reported over the same seven-day period. That number, which includes a record high of 22 deaths reported Friday, Aug. 21, brings the state’s total death toll from the virus to 696.
A total of 466 Arkansans were hospitalized because of the virus Monday — 34 fewer than the previous day, while 106 were on ventilators.
The Arkansas Department of Health website indicated that Carroll County had 432 cumulative cases as of Monday morning, with 61 active positive cases, 364 cases designated as recovered and seven deaths. The county’s cumulative case total rose by 40 over the previous week, with active positives increasing by 21.
The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement last week released data on case counts within the geographic boundaries of each of the state’s public school districts. ACHI reported both the cumulative case counts and the number of cases reported over a 14-day period for each district as of Aug. 17.
According to the ACHI report, there were a total of 167 confirmed cases within the geographic boundaries of the Berryville School District, with 29 cases in the area served by the Eureka Springs School District and 192 cases within the boundaries of the Green Forest School District.
Of those, 25 cases in the Berryville School District had been reported in the previous 14 days, with an equal number in the Green Forest district. There were no cases reported in the previous 14 days in the Eureka Springs district.
Hutchinson said Monday that the state health department recently conducted a closer examination of new cases confirmed on Monday, Aug. 10, a date chosen at random, and reported the following day.
Of the 383 newly confirmed infections that day — which included 20 in Carroll County — Hutchinson said 69 (18 percent) of the individuals who tested positive did not provide sufficient information for the state to conduct contact tracing. He reminded individuals who are being tested to provide complete contact information, especially a phone number and email address.
State health secretary Dr. Jose Romero pointed out that many of the individuals whose tests came back positive on Aug. 10 exhibited no symptoms of the virus.
“One-third of all the positive cases on that particular day were asymptomatic,” Romero said. “That is, they had no symptoms whatsoever. They presented for testing, and we found them to be positive. What that means for the public is, an asymptomatic individual can place you at risk for acquisition of COVID.”