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Covid hospitalizations continue to increase in Northwest Arkansas

by Janelle Jessen | July 10, 2021 at 7:21 a.m.
A syringe filled with Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine Thursday March 19, 2021. (NWA Democrat-Gazette File Photo/Spencer Tirey)

The number of covid-19 hospitalizations in Northwest Arkansas continued to climb this week, following statewide trends.

Forty-five patients in the region were hospitalized in specialized covid-19 units Friday, up from 39 one week earlier, according to Martine Pollard, a spokeswoman for Mercy Health System who released a joint statement on covid-19 from the region's largest health care organizations.

The 45 patients hospitalized is the region's highest total since February. The record for most hospitalizations in the region on a single day was 140 patients on Jan. 8.

Twenty-six patients were on ventilators and 91 were in intensive care units in Northwest Arkansas hospitals Friday, Pollard said. The number of patients on ventilators and in ICU represent those who have covid-19 as well as other medical needs, she said. There were 25 on ventilators and 83 in intensive care one week earlier.

In Fort Smith, 23 patients were hospitalized with covid-19 at Mercy Hospital, including 13 in the intensive care unit, according to spokeswoman Mardi Taylor. Fourteen patients were hospitalized with covid at Baptist Health, but not all were in intensive care or in critical condition, said Stephanie Whitaker, chief nursing executive.

"We continue to have capacity, staffing and supplies to care for patients in our community, but we strongly encourage those who are not vaccinated to get vaccinated for their own safety and the safety of their loved ones," Whitaker said.

Statewide, 497 patients were hospitalized with covid-19, 196 were in intensive care and 81 were on ventilators Friday, according to Danyelle McNeill, public information officer for the Arkansas Department of Health. In comparison, 338 patients were hospitalized, 176 were in ICU and 80 were on ventilators a week ago.

The state reported 1,155 new covid-19 cases Friday, according to the Department of Health. Benton County had 57 new cases and 352 active cases on Friday, Washington County had 42 new cases and 289 active cases, and Sebastian County had 20 new cases and 129 active cases.

There is not a way to track the number of cases caused by the delta variant by county because not every case reported is sequenced, McNeill said.

There were five covid-19-related deaths in Benton County in June and there have been three so far in July, according to Benton County Coroner Daniel Oxford. There have been a total of 440 covid-related deaths in the county, including 125 deaths in 2021, he said.

Washington County had seven covid-related deaths in June and has seen seven so far this month, according to Janell Smith, deputy coroner. There have been 466 covid-related deaths in the county, including 160 deaths in 2021, she said.

Neither county is able to track whether its deaths are being caused by the delta variant, Oxford and Smith said.

The Sebastian County Coroner's Office saw two covid-related deaths in June and has seen three so far in July, according to Coroner Kenneth Hobbs. Sebastian County overall has had about 185 deaths during the pandemic, he said.

Hobbs said about 40% of people who died in Sebastian County actually lived in Oklahoma and about 30% lived in other Arkansas counties. People from a seven-county area seek treatment at Fort Smith hospitals, he said.

As of Friday, 44.8% of Benton County residents, 45.3% of Washington County residents and 22.7% of Sebastian County residents were partially or fully vaccinated, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. The three counties have a population of 539,545 people over the age of 12.

A total of 45.8% of Arkansas' 2.56 million residents over 12 have been fully or partially vaccinated, according to the Department of Health. Nationally, 55.3% of the population has received at least one dose of a vaccine and 47.8% have received both doses, the federal Centers for Disease Prevention and Control reported Friday.

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The Arkansas Department of Health reports that:

• More than 90% of active cases at the end of June were not fully immunized.

• Almost 99% of those hospitalized for covid-19 in January through June were not immunized.

• More than 99% of those who died due to covid-19 in January through June were not immunized.

Source: Arkansas Department of Health

Print Headline: Covid hospitalizations on rise in Northwest Arkansas

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