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story.lead_photo.caption This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes covid-19. ( NIAID-RML via AP )

Arkansas' covid-19 cases grew by 662 Saturday and five additional people died of virus-related illness, according to the Arkansas Department of Health's online portal tracking the outbreak.

There have now been 458 deaths in the state tied to the novel coronavirus.

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The five deaths reported Saturday were spread throughout the state, with one each in Benton, Crittenden, Jefferson, Mississippi and Washington counties, according to Department of Health spokeswoman Danyelle McNeill.

Active covid-19 cases, a category of individuals who have been infected and have neither recovered nor died, rose from 6,645 to 6,679 on Saturday, an increase of 34.

The cumulative number of infections in Arkansas since the start of the outbreak stood at 43,173, according to the Health Department.

Of the 662 new cases reported Saturday, 142 were in correctional facilities, McNeill said in an email. The number of new cases was down from previous days. On Friday, 752 new cases were reported, and 791 cases were reported Thursday.

[CORONAVIRUS: Click here for our complete coverage » arkansasonline.com/coronavirus]

Counties with the largest increases Saturday included Mississippi with 75, Pulaski with 70, Greene with 66, Washington with 56, Benton with 37 and Sebastian with 35, according to the Department of Health.

Mississippi County has reported just 752 covid-19 infections since the start of the outbreak, according to the department's data, making Saturday's addition of 75 cases a noteworthy jump.

The total number of active cases in Pulaski County fell by 32 from 709 to 677 as of Saturday.

In the two most-populous counties in Northwest Arkansas, the number of active cases in Benton County decreased slightly from 399 to 395 as Washington County's active cases rose from 455 to 463.

The number of hospitalized patients -- a key indicator of the strain on the health care system and the potential for future deaths from the virus -- decreased in Arkansas from 507 to 499 as of Saturday, but the reported number of patients on ventilators rose from 99 to 102.

In a statement posted Saturday on Twitter, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Chancellor Cam Patterson said UAMS would revise its projections for the virus based on new data and the statewide mask mandate that Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued last month.

Patterson wrote that the mask mandate is affecting new cases "in the right direction!" Long-term forecasts are expected to be released Aug. 18, Patterson said, with this week's report to focus on "underserved populations and impact by age."

A June forecast by the UAMS College of Public Health predicted that under an average-case scenario, Arkansas could see a peak of more than 3,300 hospitalized patients because of covid-19 at the end of September.

CORRECTION: A previous version of the story misstated the number of active cases in Benton and Washington counties.

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