Arkansas' count of coronavirus cases rose Friday by 274 -- the biggest increase so far this week and the second-highest in more than a month.
Despite a recent uptick in the state's new cases, however, the number of people hospitalized in the state with covid-19 fell back to its lowest level in more than a week.
The state's death toll from the virus, as tracked by the Department of Health, remained at 11,415, making the day the third in just more than a week that the state didn't report an increase in covid-19 deaths.
The increase in cases was larger by 16 than the rise Thursday and by 67 than the rise the previous Friday. Except for the 279 cases added to the state's count May 5, it was the largest daily increase since March 22.
Previously, the second-highest increase since then had been the 259 cases that were added Tuesday.
"It seems like this gradual linear upward trend," State Epidemiologist Mike Cima said. "Where it will peak or stop, it kind of remains to be seen."
After dipping a day earlier, the average daily increase in the state's case count over a rolling seven-day period rose to 203. It was the first time the average had topped 200 since the week ending March 28.
With new cases outnumbering recoveries, the number of cases in the state that were considered active rose by 126, to 2,383, the largest number since March 10.
After rising by one a day earlier, the number of people hospitalized in the state with covid-19 fell Friday by three, to 48.
"It seems that we just are staying within this 48 to 60 range," Cima said of the number hospitalized.
He credited vaccinations, immunity from past infections and treatments such as Pfizer's Paxlovid pill for keeping hospitalizations down.
"That may change in the coming weeks if cases continue to increase," Cima said. "We may see a little bit more hospitalizations, but I don't expect it to change dramatically."
The number of the state's virus patients who were on ventilators, which didn't change the previous two days, fell Friday by two, to 10, tying with the number on April 26 for the lowest since May 17, 2020.
The number who were in intensive care fell by one, to 20, after rising by one a day earlier.
CASES BY COUNTY
Washington County had the most new cases, 58, on Friday, followed by Pulaski County with 40 and Benton County with 33.
The state's cumulative count of cases since March 2020 rose to 838,251.
The Health Department's tally of vaccine doses that had been administered rose by 1,589, which was larger by 48 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 335, which was down by 66 from the increase in first doses a week earlier.
Growing for the fourth day in a row, the average number of total doses administered each day over a rolling seven-day period rose to 1,384, which was the same as the average a week earlier.
The average for first doses fell to 303.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of Arkansans who had received at least one dose remained Friday at 66.8%, and the percentage who were fully vaccinated remained at 54.6%.
The percentage of those fully vaccinated 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 remained 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.