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State adds 3,124 new covid cases; ventilator use falls for 2nd day

by Andy Davis | January 15, 2021 at 4:36 p.m.
Barbara McDonald, an advanced practice registered nurse for UAMS, begins to screen patients Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020 during a drive-thru covid-19 testing at the Lonoke Community Center. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

Arkansas' count of coronavirus cases rose Friday by 3,124 — a slightly larger increase than the one on the same day the week before.

After dipping on Thursday, the number of covid-19 patients in Arkansas hospitals and intensive care units rose Friday, while the number who were on ventilators fell for the second day in a row.

The state's death toll from the virus since the pandemic reached the state in March, as tracked by the Arkansas Department of Health, rose by 35, to 4,263.

The number of cases that were considered active rose by 873, to 25,613, as new cases outpaced recoveries. However, Gov. Asa Hutchinson noted that the total number of active cases was lower than it was was on the previous Friday.

He also referred to the expansion of the state's vaccination efforts next week, when people age 70 and older and employees of educational institutions and child care centers will become eligible for shots.

Under the first phase, 1-A, of the state's vaccination plan, the shots have been available to health care workers, first responders and residents and workers in long-term care facilities.

"While we see nearly 1,700 fewer active cases than this time last week & continue to distribute vaccine doses across the state, we cannot relax our carefulness in fighting the spread of COVID-19," Hutchinson said in a statement.

"As we move into the first stages of Phase 1-B on Monday, we continue our march toward a healthier, safer Arkansas."

The number of virus patients who were hospitalized rose by 19, to 1,314. Those patients included 434 who were in intensive care, up from 426 a day earlier.

The number who were on ventilators fell by 15, to 226.

All three measures remained below the highs they reached Monday: 1,371 for the number hospitalized, 268 for the number on ventilators and 458 for the number in intensive care units.

A week ago, on Friday, Jan. 8, the state's count of cases rose by 2,944. At that time the state had 27,290 active cases.

This story has been updated.

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