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Hospitalized covid patients in Arkansas hit new high; new cases down

by Andy Davis | January 26, 2022 at 3:11 p.m.
Margie Pullam, a registered nurse for CHI St. Vincent, gives Fernando Torres his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine Friday, April 23, 2021, at Little Rock Southwest High School. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

The number of people hospitalized with covid-19 in Arkansas rebounded on Wednesday to a new all-time high even as the state's case numbers continued to point toward a slowdown in new infections.

After falling by 32 on Tuesday, the number of hospitalized patients rose Wednesday by 34, to 1,819, breaking the previous record of 1,817 covid-19 patients who were in the state's hospitals on Monday.

The case count rose by 6,561.

While larger than any daily increase before the surge powered by the omicron variant, the rise on Wednesday was smaller by more than 1,300 than the one a day earlier and less than half the size of the record spike of 14,494 cases the previous Wednesday.

The state's death toll from the virus, as tracked by the Department of Health, rose by 18, to 9,574.

Since Jan. 18, the number of covid-19 patients in the state's hospitals has been above its previous peak of 1,459 in August during the surge driven by the delta variant.

During last winter's, surge the number peaked at 1,371.

Because it can take several days for someone to become sick enough to be hospitalized after they're infected, health officials have said it wouldn't be surprising for the number of hospitalized covid-19 patients to keep rising even after new cases have peaked.

During the current surge, the average for daily new cases over a rolling seven-day has mostly fallen since reaching a high of 9,122 the week ending Jan. 16.

After rising by 676 on Tuesday, the average fell by more than 1,100 on Wednesday to 7,700, the first time it had been below 8,000 since the week ending Jan. 12.

With recoveries and deaths outpacing new cases, the number of cases in the state that were considered active fell Wednesday by 5,346, to 84,226.

It was the fourth day in a row the active case total had fallen after reaching an all-time high of 102,576 on Saturday.

Despite the increase in hospitalized patients, the number of the state's virus patients who were on ventilators fell Wednesday by 10, to 223, after rising the previous two days.

After topping 500 on Tuesday for the first time since early September, the number who were in intensive care fell Wednesday by 32, to 483.

Since Saturday, the number has been above its peak of 458 last winter, although it remains below the all-time high of 558 it reached in the summer of last year.

The number of covid-19 patients on ventilators peaked at 388 in the summer of last year and at 268 last winter.


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