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Vaccinations continue; number in hospital down

Doses in state above 284,000 to date by Alex Golden | January 30, 2021 at 7:39 a.m.
Teachers and staff with the Springdale School District receive a Pfizer covid-19 vaccine shot Wednesday in the auxiliary gym at Springdale High School. Seven hundred and thirty-four district teachers and staff began receiving their vaccinations Wednesday with 648 continuing today at Tyson School of Innovation. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/David Gottschalk)

Covid-19 cases in Northwest Arkansas increased about 2,000 in the past week, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

Pharmacies and hospitals continue to vaccinate nursing home residents and employees, health care workers, people 70 and older and school and day care employees against the disease.

More than 284,000 doses had been given in Arkansas as of Friday, according to the Health Department. The data includes first and second doses. Exactly how many vaccines have been given in Northwest Arkansas is unclear because the Health Department has only provided statewide data. A spokeswoman said last week the department is working on making county-level vaccine distribution data available.

School faculty and staff became eligible to get the vaccine Jan. 18. School districts in the region began vaccinating faculty and staff last week. Springdale vaccinated about 1,350 employees on-site a week ago and hasn’t scheduled any more vaccinations events, according to Rick Shaeffer, spokesman. Springdale schools employ 2,952 people.

Rogers vaccinated about 250 employees a week ago and has second doses planned for Feb. 11 for those who received their first doses but none for those who haven’t received a vaccine, according to Ashley Siwiec, spokeswoman. The district has 2,063 employees.

Bentonville planned to vaccinate an additional 100 employees Friday after initially vaccinating about 500 employees last week, according to Leslee Wright, spokesman for the district. The district has 2,364 employees.

Nearly 1,000 of Fayetteville Public Schools’ 1,463 employees have received the first dose of the vaccine, according to Alan Wilbourn, spokesman for the district.

Springdale and Rogers school districts had the two highest active covid-19 case numbers of all school districts in the state as of Thursday, according to the Health Department.

Springdale had 137 active cases and Rogers had 133 active cases. Bentonville had the fifth-highest number of active cases with 113, and Fayetteville had 43 active cases. Active cases are those that have not recovered or died.

Both the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines approved for use by the federal government require two doses weeks apart.

Washington Regional Medical System has given more than 2,100 first doses to people in the state’s Phase 1-B, which includes educators and people 70 and older. The system has given approximately 3,000 first doses and 2,500 second doses to people in Phase 1-A, which includes health care workers and some first responders.

Northwest Health System, which has five hospitals in the region, had given about 9,000 doses as of Thursday, according to Christina Bull. Mercy Health System has given 5,587 doses, according to Jennifer Cook, spokesoman. The data for each system includes first and second doses and includes people in Phases 1-A and 1-B.

Washington County had 27,530 cumulative cases Friday, compared to 26,552 on Jan. 22.

The county had 1,438 active cases Friday including 957 confirmed and 481 probable cases.

Benton County had 24,909 cumulative cases Friday compared to 23,882 on Jan. 22. The county had 1,470 active cases Friday including 1,010 confirmed and 460 probable cases.

Hospitals in Northwest Arkansas had a combined total of 79 patients in their covid-19 units as of Thursday, according to a joint statement from the region’s largest health care organizations via Martine Pollard, spokeswoman for Mercy Health System. Hospitalizations in the region have decreased over the past few weeks after reaching a record for most covid-19 patients at one time Jan. 8 with 140 patients.

Both antigen tests and polymerase chain reaction, or PCR tests are used to test for covid-19.

Antigen tests produce faster results, are generally only used on people with symptoms of the virus and have a higher chance of giving false-negative results. Antigen and most PCR tests are done via nasal swabs.

A total of 176,629 PCR tests and 17,758 antigen tests have been done on Benton County residents, while 191,832 PCR tests and 32,138 antigen tests have been done on Washington County residents, according to the Health Department.

Alex Golden may be reached by email at agolden@nwadg.com .

Fast fact

Groups of residents in Phase 1-B who aren’t yet be eligible to receive the vaccine include food and agricultural workers, manufacturing workers, public transportation workers, U.S. Postal Service workers and essential government workers. The state has estimated those groups will be able to begin getting the vaccine in February.

Phase 1-C, which the state expects to be able to begin receiving vaccines in April, includes people age 65-69, people age 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions and people who work in transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, food service, shelter and housing, information technology, communications, energy, media, public safety and public health.

Source: Arkansas Department of Health

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