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State's virus cases up by 803

by Andy Davis | February 24, 2021 at 8:00 p.m.

Arkansas' count of coronavirus cases rose Wednesday by 803 -- the second daily increase in a row that was bigger than the one a week earlier.

Meanwhile, the number of patients hospitalized in the state with covid-19 fell by 49, to 496.

That followed a drop of 43 patients on Tuesday and was the first time the number had been below 500 since Oct. 3.

Despite that drop, however, the number of the state's virus patients who were on ventilators and intensive care units both rose after falling a day earlier.

The number who were on ventilators rose by one, to 100.

The number of virus patients in intensive care as of 2 p.m. rose by seven, to 212.

Both measures remained at less than half the levels they reached in early January, when the number of the state's hospitalized virus patients peaked at more than 1,300.

The increase in cases was smaller than the one the previous day but more than 130 more than were added the previous Wednesday, Feb. 17, when testing was slowed by winter weather.

The Health Department reported that it had received the results of a total of 7,618 polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, and antigen tests of Arkansans that were performed on Tuesday.

That was more than three times the number of results it reported receiving a week earlier.

In a statement, Gov. Asa Hutchinson referred to the state's vaccination efforts, which were also slowed by the weather last week.

"As anticipated, we are receiving additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine," Hutchinson said.

"By expanding the eligibility of those who can get the vaccine to 65 and older, we will continue to administer these shots as quickly and efficiently as possible. We have decreased our COVID-19 hospitalizations to less than 500, which is a decrease of over 50% since this time last month."

The state's death toll from the virus, as tracked by the Department of Health, rose by 10, to 5,387.

Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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