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story.lead_photo.caption FILE - This 2020 electron microscope made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention image shows the spherical coronavirus particles from the first U.S. case of covid-19. (C.S. Goldsmith, A. Tamin/CDC via AP)

The number of Arkansans hospitalized for covid-19 fell by 28 on Sunday, sending the total below 600 for the first time in four months, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

The Health Department reported 577 Arkansans in the hospital as of Sunday. That's a reduction of 58% from the all-time high of 1,371 on Jan. 11.

However, the number of Arkansans on ventilators rose by 11 on Sunday -- 114 people in total.

Arkansas reported 284 new covid-19 cases, marking the 10th consecutive day of fewer than 1,000 new cases. Recoveries also outpaced new cases by 408, according to the Health Department.

The state's total number of active cases decreased to 5,670. It's the first time since Sept. 16 that the number has been below 6,000, and it's a reduction of almost 80% from the all-time high of 27,822 on Jan. 9.

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Nine more Arkansans have died from the virus as of Sunday, raising the death toll since March to 5,357.

The state's tally of coronavirus cases since testing began stood Sunday at 315,514. Of those, 241,474 people have recovered.

PCR and antigen testing rose by 2,688, bringing the total tests given in February to 200,998.

Health care providers on Sunday administered 6,396 vaccines, and 3,182 more doses were administered through federal programs. The Health Department reports that the total number of vaccine doses given in Arkansas as of Sunday was 515,183, though it was uncertain Sunday how many of those were first doses and how many of them were the required second dose.

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"Today's report shows the largest increase in vaccine distribution in over a week, with an increase of more than 9,500 doses," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Sunday via social media. "Our efforts to catch up on vaccine distribution this weekend are working."

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No new vaccines have been allocated to the state, which has given out 68% of the combined state and federal programs' allocated doses.

Of Sunday's new confirmed cases, Pulaski County ranked highest with 64, followed by Benton County with 31, Washington County with 26, Faulkner County with 17 and Lonoke and Sebastian counties with 13 each. Community spread accounted for 158 of the confirmed cases and two were in correctional facilities.


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