Arkansas' count of coronavirus cases rose by 49 Monday -- the smallest daily increase in more than a month -- while the number of people hospitalized with the virus fell slightly.
The state's death toll from the virus, as tracked by the state Department of Health, rose by three, to 5,820.
"Today's low number of new active cases is a cause for optimism and thankfulness," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a tweet.
"The cases usually go up during the week but today all indicators are positive."
With the pace of vaccinations trending mostly downward over the past several weeks, Hutchinson also said he would make an announcement today "on new ways to encourage the public to get the vaccine."
The increase in cases was smaller by 18 than the one a week earlier.
It was the smallest daily increase since April 18, when the case count rose by 45.
After rising by nine on Sunday, the number of people hospitalized in the state with covid-19 fell by one, to 195.
The number of the state's virus patients who were on ventilators, however, rose for the second straight day, going from 33 as of Sunday to 39, its highest level in more than a week.
The number of covid-19 patients who were in intensive care rose by eight, to 93, the highest level reported by the Health Department since March 20.
State Epidemiologist Jennifer Dillaha said she was happy with the small increase in cases but would like to see the number of people hospitalized with the virus come down more.
"That's the one thing that kind of worries me," she said.
Because of infections caused by the coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom, she said, it's possible the number of hospitalizations will remain higher than it otherwise would be even as new cases decline.
That's because that variant tends to cause more severe illness as well as spread faster than the original strain of coronavirus.
Over the past week, the number of the state's cases known to have been caused by the variant rose by 39, to 141.
Dillaha said those are "probably just the tip of the iceberg" since only a small percentage of the state's cases are tested to determine whether they were caused by a variant.
At 191, the average number of cases added to the state's tallies each day over a rolling seven-day period was down slightly from a day earlier but still above the average of 180 cases a day that were added during the week ending May 17.
With recoveries outpacing new cases, the total number of cases that were considered active fell by 143, to 1,894.
It was the first time that number had dropped below 1,900 since April 27.
At the state's nursing homes and assisted living facilities, only two residents and eight staff members tested positive for the virus over the past two weeks, according to a Health Department report on Monday.
That was down from eight residents and 13 staff members in the two-week span ending May 17.
The number of covid-19 deaths among residents of such facilities rose Monday by one, to 2,089.
PACE OF SHOTS SLOWS
Meanwhile, the Health Department reported that the number of vaccine doses that had been administered, including second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines' two-dose regimens, increased by 2,371, to 1,932,022.
That was more than 700 doses fewer than the increase the previous Monday.
After rising to about 8,157 as of Sunday, the average number of doses administered each day over a rolling seven-day period fell to 8,054.
That was near the almost three-month low the number reached Saturday and down from a peak of about 23,000 doses a day in early April.
Clinics held at seven state parks on Saturday resulted in doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine going to a total of 47 people, Health Department spokeswoman Danyelle McNeill said.
The largest number, 11, were administered at Mammoth Spring State Park in northern Arkansas. One clinic, at the Crater of Diamonds State Park near Mufreesboro, didn't draw any takers.
"I know they were prepared for more than they gave based on the park visitation numbers," Melissa Whitfield, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, said.
She said the department was "just pleased to be able to help participate with the Health Department and have clinics at places where we know people are going."
Dillaha noted the numbers were higher at other department-organized clinics on Saturday.
At one, at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, 58 people received initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine, Health Department spokeswoman Katie White said.
Another clinic, at Mosaic Church in Little Rock, drew 48 people who received initial Pfizer doses, 22 who received Johnson & Johnson, and 96 who received second doses of Pfizer.
At Longley Baptist Church, also in Little Rock, 23 people received initial Pfizer doses and eight received Johnson & Johnson, White said.
At its vaccine clinic in Little Rock, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has been giving an average of about 100 Pfizer doses, including second doses, a day, down from 200 a day a few weeks ago, university spokeswoman Leslie Taylor said.
She said UAMS also administered 57 initial Pfizer doses on Thursday at a clinic at North Little Rock High School.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,168,568 Arkansans, representing about 38.7% of the state's population, had received at least one vaccine dose as of Monday.
That included 914,312 people, or 30.3% of the state's population, who were fully vaccinated.
Among the states and District of Columbia, Arkansas ranked 44th in the percentage of its residents who had received at least one vaccine dose and 49th, ahead of only Alabama and Mississippi, in the percentage who were fully vaccinated.
Nationally, 49.4% of people had received at least one vaccine dose, and 39.3% were fully vaccinated.
CASES BY COUNTY
Arkansas' cumulative count of cases rose to 340,186.
The number of cases that had been confirmed through polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests rose by 52, to 265,921.
The state's count of "probable" cases, which include those identified through less-sensitive antigen tests, fell by three, to 74,265, apparently reflecting cases that were reclassified after the results of PCR tests were received.
Pulaski County had the most new cases, 10, followed by Craighead County, which had eight, and Crittenden County, which had five.
The Health Department didn't report any new cases among prison and jail inmates.
The state's death toll rose by three, to 4,618, among confirmed cases and remained at 1,202 among probable cases.
The number of people who have ever been hospitalized in the state with covid-19 grew by 16, to 16,228.
The number of the state's virus patients who have ever been on a ventilator rose by one, to 1,653.