Local death toll reaches 80
The death toll associated with the virus that causes COVID-19 in Carroll County has reached 80, bringing the number of deaths related to the novel coronavirus in December to five.
The latest death brings the local death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus to more than 30 in the past five months and five in December.
Statewide, the death toll rose to 8,956 over the past week, an increase of 110 deaths since last week and 413 since Dec. 6.
The latest deaths follow news from the Arkansas Department of Health that the state’s first case of the Omicron variant of the virus has been conformed, along with an announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the variant accounted for 73 percent of new cases across the country.
In the region that includes Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and New Mexico, the Omicron variant accounts for 92 percent of new COVID-19 cases.
Last week, Gov. Asa Hutchinson addressed the report, saying it will define prevention efforts in the state.
“I spoke with the CDC and the White House as to the accuracy of this report,” Hutchinson said. “The 92 percent is for the region and not particularly directed to Arkansas. It is a projection of the region based on the latest surveillance of data. Regardless, if the current estimate is precise, it is clear that Omicron is in our state, it is spreading rapidly, and it will define our prevention efforts for the coming months.”
The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been identified as a “variant of concern” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Early evidence has suggested that this variant is less likely to be affected by any immunity incurred from prior coronavirus infection and that it may cause a less serious illness than other forms of the virus, including the previously identified Delta variant.
Hutchinson said that this projection gives the state an opportunity to act before Omicron peaks in Arkansas, noting that vaccines are effective against this variant and prevent serious cases.
Active cases of the novel coronavirus also increased across the state in the past week, with the Arkansas Department of Health reporting 9,940 Monday — up 2,248 from last week’s total of 7,692. In Carroll County, however, the number of active cases decreased slightly, falling to 53 reported active cases.
The age group with the most active cases in the state is 25- to 34-year-olds with 1,911, followed by 35-44 with 1,591 and 45-54 with 65-and-over with 1,268. The number of active cases among those 65 and older was 1,191.
Children under the age of 18 account for 1,862 — or 18.7 percent — of the state’s active cases.
According to Monday’s report from the state health department, Arkansas saw an increase of 6,765 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the past seven days — up from the 5,222 new cases reported the previous week — bringing the total to 550,413 cases. That number includes 531,228 cases described as “recoveries.”
Case numbers in Arkansas have risen steadily since July 31, when there were 380,625 reported cases. Since Oct. 4, the number of cases in Arkansas has increased by 52,621.
In Carroll County, the total number of reported cases increased by 35 since last week, rising to 4,551 with 4,417 reported recoveries.
Monday’s report indicated a seven-day decrease in COVID-positive hospital admissions — 482, down 34 from last week’s 516 — a slight decrease in ICU admissions at 193, down from 205 last week. More than 61 percent of those patients in ICU beds — 118 — have been placed on ventilators.
Since Feb. 1, more than 90 percent of those hospitalized in the state — along with a similar percentage of those whose deaths were attributed to the virus since that time — were not vaccinated.
Since the pandemic began, hospitalizations related to the virus have included 970 children under the age of 18, an increase of nine in the past week, including 125 ICU admissions. Nearly 95 percent of those pediatric cases since Feb. 1 were among children 12-18 who were not vaccinated against the virus.
On the vaccination front, Monday’s numbers from the state health department show that 1,498,442 Arkansans have been fully vaccinated against the virus — an increase of 41,583 in the past week — while an additional 349,291 have been partially vaccinated. Combined, those numbers account for approximately 65 percent of Arkansans aged 5 and older. In addition, 418,327 vaccinated individuals have already received their third-dose booster.
In Carroll County, the ADH reported Monday that an additional 430 doses of the various vaccines — down from last week’s total of 607 doses — were administered in the past week, bringing the total to 28,710 and setting the percentage of county residents who are fully vaccinated against the virus at 45.8 percent. An additional 9.7 percent have been partially immunized.