Officials with the Arkansas Department of Health say covid-19 infections continue trending downward as more vaccinations are administered throughout the state and the number of fully vaccinated Arkansans approaches 1 million.
The state's cumulative count of covid-19 cases Monday was 341,381, up 30 from the previous day, but total active cases fell to 1,721, down by 217, and total deaths from the virus stood at 5,833, an increase of one from the previous day.
Counties with the highest number of newly confirmed or probable cases were Pulaski County with eight, Washington County with five and Ouachita County with four.
"We're very pleased with the low number of cases," state Epidemiologist Jennifer Dillaha said. "Hospitalizations have been hovering around 200, so it's nice to see that they're not going up, and hopefully they'll trend down."
The number of people in Arkansas hospitalized with covid-19 rose slightly, up six to 200, and the number of people on ventilators rose as well, up four to 38, but Dillaha said the trend has been winding downward in recent weeks.
As of Monday, 903,606 Arkansans (38.05%) 12 and older had been fully vaccinated with one of the three covid-19 vaccines available, an increase of 585 over Sunday. Partial immunizations totaled 238,902, equal to 10.06% of the population 12 and older, which is an increase of 406 from the previous day.
Arkansas has received 2,622,010 doses of vaccine and administered 1,979,465, accounting for 75.5% of the total number of doses received.
The total number of covid-19 tests administered, according to the state Department of Health, was 3,663,336, with 354,795 of those tests showing positive for the virus and 3,308,541 tests showing negative.
Despite the encouraging numbers, Dillaha cautioned that the world is still in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic and that continued vigilance is needed to prevent a resurgence from erasing the hard-won gains of the past couple of months.
"We have to kind of keep the pandemic in Arkansas in the context of what's going on in the U.S., and what's going on in the U.S. has to be in the context of what's going on around the world," she said. "We need to be cognizant of the fact that covid-19 is still pillaging other countries and we should not get complacent, because as long as covid-19 is circulating in other countries it could easily return here and continue to cause us problems."
Dillaha said key to preventing a resurgence is keeping transmission rates as low as possible by getting immunized and, for those who are not immunized, to continue wearing masks, adhere to social distancing, and following sanitation protocols even though such measures are no longer mandated by the state.
"There's no penalty for not wearing masks," she said, "although, the penalty, of course, is the spread of covid-19."
She said most people who are fully immunized should be able to resume normal activities without those precautions.
"People who are fully vaccinated can trust the vaccine to protect them when they're out in public," Dillaha said. "However, people who have immuno-compromising conditions that are fully vaccinated may want to take additional precautions because they may not respond as robustly as someone with a normal immune system and, of course, we know that a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated can still get covid-19 -- it would be expected to be a very mild case -- so if they are around someone known to have covid-19, they should take precautions."