Arkansas' count of coronavirus cases rose Thursday by 258, a larger increase than the one a day earlier but smaller than the rise the previous Thursday.
After falling by 14 on Wednesday, the number of people hospitalized in the state with covid-19 rose back up by one, to 51.
The state's death toll from the virus, as tracked by the Department of Health, rose by five, to 11,415.
State Epidemiologist Mike Cima said all the deaths reported Thursday occurred within the past month.
The increase in cases was larger by 14 than the one on Wednesday but smaller than the spike of 279 cases the previous Thursday, which was the biggest daily increase in more than a month.
Cima said such fluctuations are sometimes more related to reporting by health care providers than to the pace of new infections.
When the state's recent cases are examined by the day symptoms began or when the test was performed, rather than when the result was reported to the Health Department, "the upward trend is quite clear," he said.
He said he expects the uptick, which began a few days after Easter, to continue at least into next week.
"Right now I don't have any indications that it will slow down," he said.
After rising the previous two days, the average daily increase in the state's case count over a rolling seven-day period fell to 194, which was still up from an average of 146 a day the previous week.
With new cases outpacing recoveries, the number of cases in the state that were considered active rose by 138, to 2,257, the largest total since March 11.
After rising by one on Tuesday, the number of the state's virus patients who were on ventilators remained for a third day at 12. The number who were in intensive care, which fell by three on Wednesday, rose Thursday by one, to 21.
At its hospitals in Little Rock and Springdale, Arkansas Children's had four covid-19 patients on Thursday, down from five as of Wednesday, spokeswoman Hilary DeMillo said.
Also on Thursday, increases in hospital admissions caused the "covid-19 community level" in 11 Arkansas counties to rise from "low" to "medium" under the latest update to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention map.
In the state's other 64 counties, the covid-19 level remained low.
It was the sixth week in a row that no county in the state had a "high" covid-19 level, which triggers a recommendation that people wear masks in indoor public places.
During the week ending Tuesday, the number of hospital admissions for covid-19 in Pulaski, Pulaski, Faulkner, Lonoke, Saline, Conway, Grant, Prairie, Perry and Van Buren counties, which share a service area used by the CDC to calculate hospital metrics, translated to a rate of 10.3 per 100,000 residents.
That was just over the rate of 10 per 100,000 residents that causes a county's level to be medium regardless of how many new cases it had.
Similarly, hospital admissions in the service area shared by Baxter and Marion counties in northern Arkansas translated to a rate of 10.2 per 100,000 residents, putting those counties in the medium category.
In such counties, the CDC recommends people who are immunocompromised or at high risk of severe covid-19 illness talk to their health care providers about whether they should wear masks or take other precautions.
People in those counties also should consider wearing masks around people who have a high risk of severe illness, according to the CDC.
In counties with low covid-19 levels, the CDC doesn't have a recommendation about whether people should wear masks.
CASES BY COUNTY
Pulaski County had the most new cases, 56, on Thursday, followed by Washington County with 37 and Benton County with 24.
The state's cumulative count of cases since March 2020 rose to 837,977.
The Health Department's tally of vaccine doses that had been administered rose by 1,831, which was larger by 112 than the daily increase a week earlier.
Almost half the most recent increase was from doses classified on the Health Department's online coronavirus dashboard as not having an "available dose number."
That's how the department is listing second booster doses, which were authorized in March for people who are 50 or older or have compromised immune systems.
The count of doses for people receiving the vaccine for the first time rose by 386, which was up by 16 compared to the increase in first doses a week earlier.
Growing for the third day in a row, the average number of doses administered each day over a rolling seven-day period rose to 1,377, which was still down from just more than 1,500 a day the previous week.
The average for first doses rose to 312.
According to the CDC, 66.8% of Arkansans had received at least one dose as of Thursday, a percentage that hadn't changed since Saturday.
The percentage who had been fully vaccinated rose from 54.5% as of Wednesday to 54.6%.
Of those who were fully vaccinated, the percentage who had received a booster dose remained at 39.8%.
Among the states and District of Columbia, Arkansas continued to rank 37th in the percentage of its residents who had received at least one dose.
In the percentage who were fully vaccinated, it rose from 47th to being roughly tied with Tennessee and Idaho for 45th, ahead of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Wyoming.
Nationally, 77.6% of people had received at least one dose, and 66.4% were fully vaccinated.
Of the fully vaccinated population nationally, 46.3% had received a booster dose.