The number of active covid-19 cases and the number of patients hospitalized with the illness continued its decline Saturday as the summer peak of the pandemic wanes.
On Friday, the number of Arkansans hospitalized with covid-19 fell to its lowest level since July 24. On Saturday, that trend continued with 867 people hospitalized with the disease, 27 fewer than the Arkansas Department of Health reported Friday.
In July and August, the delta variant of the coronavirus pushed Arkansas' health care system to the brink with many patients filling up the limited number of intensive care unit beds. While covid-19 cases continue to decline, many Arkansans, mostly unvaccinated ones, are contracting and fighting the disease.
Of the patients hospitalized with covid-19, 382 are in ICUs as of Saturday while 230 are on ventilators according to the Department of Health.
The Health Department reported 1,012 more covid-19 cases Saturday for a total of 13,073 active cases. That is 172 fewer active cases than were reported Friday, continuing a fall from the August peak. The total number of covid-19 cases reported in the state is now 492,233.
Arkansas ranks fifth in covid-19 cases per 100,000 people with 16,277, behind only Tennessee, North Dakota, Florida and South Carolina according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Arkansas, health officials reported an additional 14 deaths from the coronavirus Saturday bringing the total to 7,575
The number of fully immunized Arkansans continued its climb Saturday with an additional 3,542 people getting shots. That means 51.8% of the state's population of people ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated. Another 296,345 have been partially immunized.
With the CDC approving the Pfizer vaccine booster shot for people ages 18 and up, some eligible Arkansans have started schedule appointments to get boosters.
The CDC's decision overrules a ruling by the Food and Drug Administration, which approved the Pfizer booster shot for only those 65 and older. So far, 22,006 third doses have been administered in Arkansas, according to the Department of Health.
In a tweet Friday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he agreed that the CDC's call "is a step in the right direction," and he hoped similar nods would be given to other vaccine booster shots.
Unvaccinated people have accounted for 87.7% of total cases, 89.9% of hospitalizations and 87.7% of deaths from covid-19 since Feb. 1, according to the Department of Health. Of the active cases, 82.5% are unvaccinated people.