The number of covid-19 patients on ventilators in Arkansas hospitals Saturday reached its lowest level since May 15, 2021, according to data from the Arkansas Department of Health.
Hospitals have seen steadily fewer covid-19 patients in general for weeks since the omicron surge of the virus ebbed in January, and hospital data has been reaching some of the lowest levels since the early days of the pandemic in 2020.
Although hospitals are no longer required to report their numbers of covid-19 patients to the Health Department on weekends and holidays, the ones that did Saturday reported a continuation of current trends.
Nine fewer people were hospitalized Saturday than Friday, totaling 122 and marking the third day last week below the 2021 low of 141 covid-19 patients.
Two fewer patients were in intensive care for a total of 41 Saturday, 23 fewer than a week earlier and a new low for this year, according to Health Department data.
None of the four covid-19 patients at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences were on ventilators or in intensive care Saturday, spokeswoman Leslie Taylor said.
Two of the four patients went to UAMS to be treated for covid-19, while the other two went in seeking care for other reasons and tested positive for the virus after being admitted, Taylor said.
The low hospitalization numbers statewide are "a relief," Health Department spokeswoman Meg Mirivel said in an email.
Meanwhile, currently infectious cases of covid-19 trended back downward after Friday's slight increase. The Health Department recorded 1,427 active cases Saturday, 114 fewer than a week earlier, 18 fewer than Friday and just above this year's low of 1,425. Active cases in 2021 never fell below 1,594.
The 121 new recorded cases brought Arkansas' total to 832,515 in just over two years.
The rolling seven-day average of new cases dropped to 356, the lowest daily average number of new cases since June 2021.
Pulaski County had the most new cases Saturday with 19, Craighead County had 11 and Benton County had 10.
All 75 Arkansas counties are now at a low covid-19 transmission level, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The 1,325 covid-19 vaccine doses given Saturday were 354 more than Friday but 581 fewer than a week earlier, in keeping with the ongoing decrease in demand for shots.
Of the shots given Saturday, 42.3 percent were according to Health Department data, and 2,667 booster shots were distributed last week.
UAMS closed its public vaccine clinic March 18 and its drive-thru testing site Friday.
"We just weren't seeing the demand for testing that we have in the past," Taylor said. "If we have to stand that back up, we will, but it's looking very good right now, like maybe we won't have to."
The Health Department recorded six new deaths of covid-19 Saturday, totaling 11,209 Arkansans who have died of the virus.