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State covid ventilator use sets record for 6th day in week

by Tess Vrbin | August 21, 2021 at 6:16 p.m.
Work stations in the Ford Rawsonville plant in Ypsilanti Township, Mich., are shown in this May 13, 2020, file photo. An area of the plant was converted into a ventilator factory last year, as hospitals battling the coronavirus reported shortages of the life-saving devices. (AP/Carlos Osorio)

The number of Arkansas covid-19 patients on ventilators continues to rise, according to data from the Arkansas Department of Health.

State officials reported 345 covid-19 patients on ventilators, up two from Friday. There were 54 fewer people on ventilators on Aug. 14, according to Health Department data.

The state topped 300 patients on ventilators for the first time on Sunday, when 303 people were using the devices. The only day since then in which ventilator use has fallen was Wednesday; 326 ventilators were in use, compared to 328 the day before.

However, covid-19 hospitalizations in Arkansas continue to decrease, according to the Health Department. The number of people hospitalized Saturday with the virus was 1,362, down 35 from Friday. It's also nine fewer than the peak in January during the winter surge of the virus. Before Saturday, hospitalizations had exceeded the winter peak every day since Aug. 8.

Five of the past seven days saw decreases in hospitalizations, and 90 fewer Arkansans were in the hospital with covid-19 on Saturday than on Aug. 14.

The state's official death toll as of Saturday rose by 31. Since the pandemic reached Arkansas in March 2020, the state has linked 6,645 deaths to the coronavirus.

State officials on Saturday reported 25,721 Arkansans with active, or currently infectious, covid-19 cases — exactly the same number as the previous Saturday. Although active cases fell on Monday, the number of new positive cases per day has been rising since then, with 403 more new cases Saturday than a week earlier.

The Health Department reported an additional 15,963 vaccine doses administered statewide as of Saturday, 1,464 more than a week earlier and 6,820 more than on Friday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson commended the increase in vaccinations Saturday in his near-daily Twitter statement about the latest data.

“Most of these are second doses, which means more Arkansans are on their way to being fully immunized,” Hutchinson said. “Our work to get Arkansans vaccinated cannot stop. Please do your part.”

More details in Sunday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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