Mixed news on virus: Daily cases declining but deaths near 700
By Scott Loftis
Arkansas’ daily count of newly confirmed COVID-19 infections continued an overall downward trend early this week, but the state’s death toll from the virus has now surpassed 700.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced at a news conference Tuesday in Malvern that 480 Arkansans had tested positive for the virus in the previous 24 hours. That followed Monday’s total of 320 new cases, the lowest single-day total of new cases since July 7.
Although there were 887 new cases reported Friday, the state’s daily average of new cases starting Tuesday, Aug. 18, has been 536.9.
“That continues to be going in the right direction,” Hutchinson said.
While the average number of new cases reported daily is on the decline, a total of 108 deaths from the virus were reported over the same eight-day period. That number, which includes a record high of 22 deaths reported Friday, Aug. 21, brings the state’s total death toll from the virus to 711.
A total of 442 Arkansans were hospitalized because of the virus Monday — 58 fewer than two days earlier — while 106 were on ventilators.
The Arkansas Department of Health website indicated that Carroll County had 436 cumulative cases as of Tuesday morning, with 50 active positive cases, 379 cases designated as recovered and seven deaths. The county’s cumulative case total rose by 41 over the previous week, with active positives increasing by eight.
The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement last week released data on case counts within the geographic boundaries of each of the state’s public school districts. ACHI reported both the cumulative case counts and the number of cases reported over a 14-day period for each district as of Aug. 17.
According to the ACHI report, there were a total of 29 confirmed cases within the geographic boundaries of the Eureka Springs School District. None of those cases had been reported in the previous 14 days.
Hutchinson said Monday that the state health department recently conducted a closer examination of new cases confirmed on Monday, Aug. 10, a date chosen at random, and reported the following day.
Of the 383 newly confirmed infections that day — which included 20 in Carroll County — Hutchinson said 69 (18 percent) of the individuals who tested positive did not provide sufficient information for the state to conduct contact tracing. He reminded individuals who are being tested to provide complete contact information, especially a phone number and email address.
State health secretary Dr. Jose Romero pointed out that many of the individuals whose tests came back positive on Aug. 10 exhibited no symptoms of the virus.
“One-third of all the positive cases on that particular day were asymptomatic,” Romero said. “That is, they had no symptoms whatsoever. They presented for testing, and we found them to be positive. What that means for the public is, an asymptomatic individual can place you at risk for acquisition of COVID.”