COVID-19 hospitalizations reach another new high

Thursday, July 16, 2020

By Scott Loftis

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arkansas continues to increase rapidly, along with the number of Arkansans hospitalized with the virus.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday that 794 Arkansas residents had tested positive for COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours while hospitalizations increased by six to 445 — the state’s highest hospitalization count since the pandemic began in March.

Eight Arkansans had died from COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours, Hutchinson said, raising the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the state to 331.

Tuesday’s total was the fourth-highest single-day number the state has seen since the pandemic began in March. The state’s six highest single-day totals have all come in July, as daily totals topped 500 11 times in the first 14 days of the month. In all, Arkansas has reported 8,956 cases in July — an average of 639.7 a day. Before July 1, the state’s highest single-day total was 731 on June 12.

The state’s total case count reached 29,733 Tuesday. That represents an increase of 21.3 percent from the previous Tuesday, July 7. In that same time span, hospitalizations increased by 20.6 percent and 30 Arkansans died.

As of Tuesday morning, the Arkansas Department of Health reported a total of 230 confirmed cases in Carroll County, with 45 active cases, 179 recovered and six deaths. While the number of confirmed cases was 17.9 percent higher than the previous Monday, the number of active cases had decreased by three as an additional 37 cases were reported to be “recovered” over the past week. The state reported one new COVID-19 death in Carroll County over the past week. An ADH “occupations cluster report” released Monday said seven of the active cases were connected to the Tyson Foods facility in Green Forest.

In response to an email inquiry, an ADH spokeswoman explained the state’s criteria for cases considered recovered.

“Arkansas uses the ten day metric for recovery and has ever since CDC began recommending a period of 10 days for isolation after the onset of symptoms or from date of test, if the person is asymptomatic,” wrote Danyelle McNeill, public information officer

for the ADH’s Office of Health Communications. “After the 10 day period a person may be released from isolation as long as their symptoms are improving and they have had no fever for at least 3 days. Previously, the isolation period was 7 days.

“However, if we are unable to reach a person at the end of their isolation period (and they are not hospitalized and not deceased), we attempt to reach them for the 3 days after their isolation period is over. If we are unsuccessful in reaching them, we declare them recovered on day 14.

“This is not to be confused with the recommendation for a quarantine period of 14-days for exposed persons, which is the length of the incubation period for the virus. It has not changed.”

Northwest Arkansas continues to be an area of concern. Although the region’s “seven-day rolling average” of new cases has declined over the past several days, it remains the highest in the state. Washington County had the state’s second-highest total of new cases announced Tuesday with 68, trailing only Pulaski County, while Benton County had 36. And Northwest Arkansas was by far the region of the state with the most hospitalizations, at around 140, according to a chart that Hutchinson presented Monday.

Still, Hutchinson said hospital capacity has not reached a red line.

“I want to assure everybody that we have adequate hospital capacity to meet the needs of our citizens,” he said.

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