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Arkansas reports lowest covid hospitalization levels since mid-July

by Andy Davis | August 9, 2022 at 7:18 a.m.
Nick Kitchens, a registered nurse for University of Arkansas at Little Rock Health Services, looks over a covid-19 test during a screening Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 at Donaghey Student Center.

The number of people hospitalized in Arkansas with covid-19 fell to its lowest level in more than three weeks on Monday amid further signs the spread of the coronavirus was slowing.

The state's death toll from the virus, as tracked by the Department of Health, rose by one, to 11,764.

Declining for the fifth day in a row, the number hospitalized fell Monday by 24, to 369, the smallest number since July 13.

It was the first time the number had dropped below the recent low of 386 that it reached early last week before it briefly began climbing again.

"That's some good news," State Epidemiologist Mike Cima said of the drop in the number hospitalized on Monday.

"Hopefully that's the start of a sustained decrease in hospitalizations."

The state's count of cases rose Monday by 441, which was smaller by 45 than the increase on Sunday and by 141 than the rise the previous Monday.

After rising a day earlier, the average daily increase in the state's case count over a rolling seven-day period fell to 962, its lowest level since the week ending July 5.

Dropping for the second straight day, the number of cases in the state that were considered active fell Monday by 979, to 12,575, as recoveries outpaced new infections.

It was the first time the active case total had been below 13,000 since July 6.

"Cases are steadily decreasing," Cima said.

"Although there is still quite a bit of transmission out there, I am encouraged by the way things are going."

He said BA.5, the version of the omicron variant responsible for a majority of infections nationwide in recent weeks, appeared to be running out of people to infect.

"I think we've hit the maximum threshold for susceptible individuals that have been infected, and that population keeps diminishing, so that's why we're starting to see cases come down," he said.

He said he wasn't aware of any new coronavirus strains that could cause the state's new cases to begin ticking up again.

BA.2.75, which attracted attention after it began spreading in parts of India, has remained relatively uncommon in the United States.

According to an online dashboard by Rajendram Rajnarayanan, assistant dean of research at the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University, a total of 84 cases of BA.2.75 had been identified in 20 states and Washington, D.C., as of Monday.

The dashboard didn't list any cases of BA.2.75 that had been identified in Arkansas.

"It really remains to be seen if it's going to be a real contender," Cima said of BA.2.75.

"Right now, the data doesn't suggest it will be, but that could change at any moment."

Even if a new subvariant isn't the culprit, however, he said he expects cases to begin ticking up again later this year.

"I expect [the coronavirus] to behave like a respiratory virus and that, when we start heading indoors during the cold winter months, that we'll start seeing an increase in activity again," Cima said.

Pulaski County had the most new cases, 71, on Monday, followed by Craighead County with 51 and Greene County with 24.

The state's cumulative count of cases since March 2020 rose to 911,249.

After growing the previous four days, the number of the state's virus patients who were in intensive care fell Monday by five, to 64.

The number who were on ventilators, which didn't change Sunday, fell by one, to 16.

At its hospitals in Little Rock and Springdale, Arkansas Children's had 12 covid-19 patients on Monday, down from 17 on Friday, spokeswoman Hilary DeMillo said.

Print Headline: Covid hospitalizations drop


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