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Arkansas covid markers increase for second day after plateau

Numbers of people in ICU, on ventilators rise slightly by Will Langhorne | April 22, 2022 at 7:11 a.m.
Lily Douglas of Fayetteville turns in a swab to get tested for the coronavirus that causes covid-19 at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Fayetteville in this Feb. 1, 2022, file photo. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/J.T. Wampler)

Arkansas' active coronavirus case count rose for the second day in a row Thursday, reaching its highest level this month.

After weeks of decline or low increases, some of Arkansas' covid-19 metrics rose significantly over the past two days, according to data from the state Department of Health.

The number of cases state officials considered active increased by 51 to 1,147, the largest uptick since March 30. This figure represents people who have recently tested positive and are possibly still infectious.

The total number of coronavirus cases in the state grew by 146 to 834,699.

While cases may be on the rise, state officials said the increase has yet to strain Arkansas hospitals.

"Hospitalizations may be increasing slightly, but they're doing just that: increasing slightly, which is an important distinction to be made," State Epidemiologist Mike Cima said on Thursday. "We're not in immediate danger of taxing our health care system to the extent we had in the past."

The number of people hospitalized with coronavirus remained Thursday at 51.

The state's number of infected patients on ventilators rose for the third day in a row, by one to 16.

The number of patients in intensive care units also grew for the third day in a row, increasing by one to 26.

Hospital officials with Baptist Health and the University of Arkansas for Medical Services said Thursday they hadn't noticed an increase in demand for covid testing or treatment.

The number of inpatients at UAMS clinics remained steady during the past two weeks and community vaccine clinics have remained closed since March when demand plummeted, according to spokeswoman Leslie Taylor.

"We are not currently making any extra preparations, however, we are prepared to quickly reopen covid wards with negative pressure beds, reopen our drive thru testing and community vaccination clinics if necessary," she wrote in a statement.

Demand for testing at Baptist Health remained low in recent months, according to spokeswoman Cara Wade. While the hospital system recently recorded a slight increase in the number of administered vaccine doses, Wade attributed the uptick to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval of a fourth vaccine dose.

"While we certainly hope there is not another surge in the pandemic, we are prepared and have the experience from already going through several surges. Baptist Health's goal is to be there for any patient in need," she wrote in a statement.

Arkansas Children's Hospitals had two patients infected with the virus on Thursday morning, according to spokeswoman Hilary DeMillo.

The state saw six more coronavirus deaths on Thursday, bringing the total number of deaths to 11,366. Five of the additional deaths were recorded within the past month, according to Cima.

Arkansas' vaccination rates have remained lower than officials would like, Cima said. State officials recorded 5,119,250 vaccine doses administered with 55.7% of the eligible population fully immunized on Thursday.

"We're not where we should be ... in terms of individuals who are fully vaccinated and who have received their booster dose when they are eligible," he said. "That is an important factor in controlling covid and controlling severe outcomes that are associated with covid."

While Arkansas officials had yet to detect a coronavirus case caused by the BA.2.12.1 sublineage of the virus on Thursday, Cima said this did not mean the strain wasn't circulating in the state.

In recent weeks, federal officials reported an uptick in cases caused by the BA.2.12.1 sublineage in New York and other states. Officials suspect this strain to be more transmissible than the original BA.2 strain of the omicron variant.

Print Headline: State’s count of active cases up a 2nd day


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