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Arkansas covid cases increase 270 Monday; hospitalizations rise to 333, highest in 3 weeks

State reports 270 new cases of covid-19, 5 more deaths by Andy Davis | November 23, 2021 at 7:14 a.m.
Neha Sharma, a pharmacist, draws a dose of the Moderna covid-19 vaccine at a UAMS vaccine clinic at University Park in Little Rock in this March 8, 2021, file photo. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Stephen Swofford)

The upward trend in Arkansas' new coronavirus cases resumed Monday as the number of people hospitalized with the virus in the state rose to its highest level in more than three weeks.

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The state's count of cases rose by 270, an increase that was larger by 119 than the one the previous Monday.

Rising for the second day in a row, the number of people hospitalized with covid-19 in Arkansas jumped by 19, to 333, its highest level since Oct. 30.

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The state's death toll from the virus, as tracked by the Department of Health, rose by five, to 8,620.

"The numbers are a continuation of moving in the wrong direction," Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, the Health Department's chief medical officer, said.

Referring to the relatively small number of new cases that are typically added on Mondays, she added, "Since we're coming off the weekend, it's kind of hard to tell how quickly we're moving in the wrong direction."

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She said the state still appeared to be at the start of a new surge in cases driven in part by transmission among children in schools, many of which dropped their mask mandates while the state's new cases were on the decline.

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"I would love to be proven wrong, but I think with our low vaccination rates, the removal of many of the local mask mandates and the upcoming holiday where we'll see travel and lots of social mixing -- I don't know how any of those things would work toward turning the situation around," Dillaha said.

In a tweet, Gov. Asa Hutchinson had a more hopeful outlook.

He referred to the drop in the state's active case total, which almost always falls on Mondays due to slowdowns in testing and reporting over the weekend.

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"It's good to see our active cases decline as we head into a holiday week," Hutchinson said.

He said the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences' Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health had predicted "another COVID surge."

"But the good news is that surge can be slowed if we increase vaccines throughout the state," Hutchinson said.

The surge in cases is the state's second since the highly transmissible delta variant, now the dominant strain in the country, arrived in Arkansas earlier this year.

Cases are also on the rise nationwide and in a majority of states, news outlets including The New York Times and Axios reported.


The increase in cases in Arkansas on Monday was the ninth daily rise in 10 days that was larger than the one a week earlier.

After staying essentially flat a day earlier, the average daily increase in the state's case count over a rolling seven-day period rose to 647, the highest average since the week ending Oct. 13.

With recoveries and deaths outpacing new cases, however, the number of cases in the state that were considered active fell by 356, to 5,971.

After not changing a day earlier, the number of the state's virus patients who were on ventilators fell by one, to 62.

The number who were in intensive care rose by 12, to 144, the largest number since Nov. 3.

The number of intensive care unit beds in the state's hospitals that were unoccupied rose by five, to 95, reflecting an increase in staffed beds and a drop in non-covid-19 patients in intensive care.

People with covid-19 made up about 14% of all the state's intensive care patients on Monday, up from about 13% a day earlier.

In one sign that the upward trend in new cases is likely to continue, Dillaha said the percentage of the state's coronavirus tests that were positive over a rolling seven-day period rose to 7.5% as of Saturday, its highest level in more than a month, before dropping slightly to 7.4% as of Sunday.

Hutchinson has said he wants to keep the percentage below 10%.


Benton County had the most new cases on Monday, 33, followed by Pulaski County with 28 and Sebastian County with 24.

The state's cumulative count of cases rose to 524,440.

Health Department spokeswoman Danyelle McNeill said four of the deaths reported Monday happened within the past month, and the other occurred earlier in October.

The number of people who have ever been hospitalized in the state with covid-19 rose by 18, to 28,148.

The number of the state's virus patients who have ever been on a ventilator rose by one, to 2,968.


Meanwhile, at 2,812, the increase in the Health Department's tally of vaccine doses that have been administered was the fourth one in a row that was larger than the one a week earlier.

Booster shots made up 49% of the most recent increase.

The count of first doses rose by 1,053, which was smaller by more than 200 than the increase in first doses a week earlier.

The average number of total doses administered each day over a rolling seven-day period rose to 9,697, which was still below the average of more than 10,400 a day the previous week.

After rising the previous three days, the average for first doses fell to 3,254.

McNeill said 18,678 children age 5-11 had received first doses as of Monday, up from 15,639 as of Friday.

Children in that age group became eligible for a low-dose version of the Pfizer vaccine earlier this month.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 59.9% of Arkansans of all ages had received at least one vaccine dose as of Monday, and 49% had been fully vaccinated.

Of those who had been fully vaccinated, 19.2% had received a booster dose, up from 19% as of a day earlier.

Among the states and District of Columbia, Arkansas continued to rank 36th in the percentage of its residents who had received at least one dose and 44th, ahead of Louisiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Alabama, Wyoming, Idaho and West Virginia, in the percentage who had been fully vaccinated.

Nationally, 69.5% of people had received at least one dose as of Monday, and 59.2% had been fully vaccinated.

Of the fully vaccinated population nationally, 18.4% had received a booster dose.

Print Headline: Hospital tally up a 2nd day, jumps to 333


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