The Arkansas Department of Health reported 21 new covid-19 cases on Monday, one of the lowest daily totals reported since the beginning of the pandemic.
The additional cases brought the state's cumulative case count since March 2020 to 832,574 and the active case count to 1,294.
With more Arkansans relying on at-home tests, Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, the Health Department's chief medical officer, said Monday the new case totals do not capture all new active cases. Dillaha also noted that many people infected with coronavirus do not display symptoms and don't get tested.
"We value the case number because of the indication of trends," she said. "We know, though, that the actual numbers are really just the tip of the iceberg."
Dillaha pointed to other metrics -- including the number of hospitalizations -- that have continued to improve.
State officials reported 119 total hospitalizations with 38 patients in intensive care and 26 on ventilators. These numbers are down from a week prior when the state saw 161 patients hospitalized and 40 on ventilators.
Four covid-19 patients were hospitalized at Arkansas Children's hospitals as of early Monday afternoon. None of the patients were on ventilators or in intensive care, according to spokeswoman Hilary DeMillo.
As of late last week, federal public health officials are no longer recommending masks in any part of Arkansas.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculated "low covid-19 community levels" for each of Arkansas's 75 counties on Thursday. The metrics indicate that all counties saw low numbers of new cases, hospitalizations and percentages of staffed hospital beds occupied by covid-19 patients during the previous seven days.
The week prior, only Ashley and Chicot counties had "high covid-19 community levels."
"It's a needed relief for our state," Dillaha said. "Of course, there are still people who are at risk of serious illness and those people may choose to continue wearing a mask in order to protect themselves."
Despite the changes in classifications, federal officials recommend following isolation and quarantine guidelines and staying up to date with covid-19 vaccines and boosters.
Individuals and households can reduce the risk of spreading the virus by maintaining improved ventilation in indoor spaces. Those who are immunocompromised or at a high risk for severe disease should have plans for rapid testing and talk to their health care providers about coronavirus treatments, according to the CDC's website.
Those in close contact with individuals who are at risk of serious disease may also consider wearing masks to minimize their chances of spreading the virus, according to Dillaha.
State public health officials reported one covid-19 death on Monday, bringing Arkansas's death toll since the start of the pandemic to 11,211. The additional death occurred within the past month, according to Dillaha.
As of Monday, 1,577,152 people were fully vaccinated in the state. The figure represents 55.5% of the state's population 5 and up, or those eligible for vaccination. An additional 54 people were fully vaccinated since Sunday, according to data from the Health Department.
State officials have recently seen low vaccination rates among young adults and children, according to Dillaha.
"I would very much like to see more people get up to date with their vaccines," she said.
It's especially important for those who have received their first round of vaccines to get boosted, said Dillaha, noting that additional recommended doses can effectively prevent severe illness.
Arkansas saw 137 people recover since Sunday. Since the start of the pandemic, state officials have recorded 819,833 recovered cases.
Public health officials are continuing to track the omicron variant and subvariant BA.2, according to Dillaha.