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Arkansas health officials note week-over-week declines in new covid cases, say Labor Day bump still possible

Hospitalizations edge higher; two more deaths reported by Andy Davis | September 10, 2022 at 4:02 a.m.
Nurse Takela Gardner puts on PPE before entering a room in one of the Covid wards at University of Arkansas for Medical Science on Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Little Rock. .(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

Arkansas' count of coronavirus cases rose Friday by 1,148 -- the fourth daily increase in a row that was smaller than the one a week earlier.

After declining the previous two days, however, the number of covid-19 patients in the state's hospitals rose by three, to 275.

The state's death toll from the virus, as tracked by the Department of Health, rose by two, to 11,953.

Health Department spokeswoman Danyelle McNeill said both the deaths reported Friday happened more than a month earlier.

One of the deaths occurred in June, and the other was from July, she said.

While larger by five than the rise a day earlier, the increase in cases on Friday was smaller by 71 than the one the previous Friday.

That continued a string of week-over-week declines in new cases starting after Labor Day, although at least some of the dip was likely due to a slowdown in testing and reporting around the holiday.

In an emailed statement, Health Department spokeswoman Meg Mirivel said it was unlikely that lower testing over the weekend was a factor in Friday's new case number.

She said it was still possible, however, that the state would see an uptick in new cases stemming from the holiday.

"If there are increased cases due to gatherings during the holiday weekend, we probably would not be seeing that yet since it takes time for people to develop symptoms, seek testing, and for testing to be reported to the [Health Department]," Mirivel said.

The lower new case numbers this week are in contrast to a gradual upward trend over the previous few weeks that health officials had linked to the start of the 2022-23 school year.

Infections among children, who represent about 23% of the state's population, accounted for just 19% of the state's new cases on Friday, down from 29% a week earlier.

Pulaski County had the most new cases, 154, on Friday, followed by Washington County with 96, Faulkner county with 84 and Craighead County with 65.

The state's cumulative count of cases since March 2020 rose to 940,689.

Already at its lowest level since the week ending June 23, the average daily increase in the state's case count over a rolling seven-day period fell Friday to 787.

Growing for the second day in a row, the number of cases in the state that were considered active rose by 118, to 11,090, as new cases outpaced recoveries.

The total as of Friday was still down by almost 1,000 from the 12,088 cases that were active a week earlier, however.

After rising the previous three days, the number of the state's virus patients who were in intensive care remained Friday at 46.

The number on ventilators, which fell by two on Thursday, remained at 11.

At its hospitals in Little Rock and Springdale, Arkansas Children's had 19 covid-19 patients on Friday, up from 17 on Thursday, spokeswoman Hilary DeMillo said.

UPDATED BOOSTERS

Also on Friday, McNeill said the providers participating in the vaccine effort coordinated by the state had received a total of 48,500 doses of the updated vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that federal regulators cleared last week for use as booster doses.

Those doses are in addition to ones that were shipped to veterans hospitals and other federal entities. Outside of the state program, some pharmacies also received doses through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination.

Through the federal and state programs, The Pharmacy at Wellington in Little Rock had received a total of 600 doses of Pfizer and 400 of Moderna as of Friday and had been administering about 100 of the updated boosters a day, pharmacist Nick Dziurkowski said.

The store received its first shipment of the updated Moderna vaccines on Sept. 2 and started administering them the same day, he said.

"We were worried that they weren't going to ship it fast enough to keep up, but so far we're keeping up with the pace that we have," Dziurkowski said.

The vaccines, which target the original coronavirus strain as well as two strains of the omicron variant that are now responsible for most infections, were authorized as boosters for fully vaccinated people who received their last booster or primary series dose at least two months earlier.

The Pfizer vaccine was cleared for people 12 and older. Moderna's was authorized for people 18 and older.

Dziurkowski said demand had been a bit higher than it was after second boosters of the original vaccines were cleared in March for people who are 50 or older or have compromised immune systems.

Along with the updated boosters, many people have been getting flu shots at the same time, he said.

"We've seen a fair amount of flu also, so we are encouraging it," Dziurkowski said.


Print Headline: Arkansas logs 1,148 new covid-19 cases

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