The number of coronavirus cases in Arkansas continued an upward trend that began a few days after Easter, rising by 391 on Friday.
After the number of people hospitalized in the state with Covid-19 rose by five on Thursday, it stayed at 70 for a second day.
The state’s death toll from the virus, tracked by the Arkansas Department of Health, rose by three to 11,471.
Health Department director Jennifer Dillaha said an ongoing review of death records added a total of nine deaths to the state’s count and subtracted six more after determining that Covid-19 was not a contributing factor.
Of those added, four were from October, one from February, three from March and one from April, she said.
Friday’s increase in cases was 18 larger than Thursday and 76 larger than the previous Friday.
After collapsing a day earlier, the state’s average daily increase in the number of cases over a rolling seven-day period rose to 327, the highest since the week ended March 26.
As the number of new cases exceeded the number of recoveries, the number of cases in the state that were considered active rose by 136 to 3,763, the highest total since March 3.
“We continue the general uptrend,” said Dillaha.
While new cases are gradually leveling off or declining in some Northeast states, Dillaha said she is concerned about the potential of new versions of the Omicron variant to extend the surge in Arkansas.
She said a report she received on Tuesday shows the state’s first case caused by an Omicron subvariant called BA.4 has been identified.
According to the same report, the number of cases known to be caused by another strain, BA.5, had increased from two to three.
Both subvariants have been blamed for a recent wave of infections in South Africa, which was among the first countries hit by the original Omicron strain.
“When the Omicron variant first got through there, maybe 90% of the people got infected, and then they had another spike, so that tells me people are getting infected again,” Dillaha said.
In Arkansas, Memorial Day weekend gatherings also have the potential to accelerate the spread of the virus, Dillaha said.
Your people should stay home when they’re sick. Even those who are feeling well should consider getting a Covid-19 test and wearing a mask when around people who are at serious risk of Covid-19, she said .
She also recommended people avoid crowded indoor spaces that are not well ventilated and choose outdoor activities whenever possible.
After the number of the state’s virus patients on ventilators dropped to just two on Thursday, it rose to three on Friday.
For the second day in a row, the number of intensive care patients increased by three to 13.
CASES BY COUNTY
Pulaski County had the most new cases Friday at 95, followed by Washington County at 32, Faulkner County at 31 and Benton County at 24.
The state’s cumulative case count since March 2020 rose to 842,439.
The number of vaccine doses administered by the health ministry rose by 1,607, down more than 200 from the daily increase a week earlier.
About 44% of the recent spike came from doses not classified as having an “available dose number” on the department’s online coronavirus dashboard.
So the department lists second booster doses approved in March for people aged 50 or older or with weakened immune systems.
The number of doses for people receiving the vaccine for the first time increased by 328, down 186 from the increase in first doses a week earlier.
After a slight increase the previous day, the average number of total doses administered daily over a seven-day period fell to 1,335 on Friday, down from an average of 1,464 per day the previous week.
The average for the first doses dropped to 287.
According to the CDC, the percentage of Arkansans who had received at least one dose remained at 67% as of Friday, and the percentage fully vaccinated remained at 54.7%.
The proportion of fully vaccinated subjects who received a booster dose remained at 40.1%.
Among the states and District of Columbia, Arkansas continued to rank 37th for the percentage of its residents who had received at least one dose.
The percentage of fully vaccinated fell from 46th to 47th in Tennessee, ahead of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Wyoming.
Nationwide, 77.8% of people had received at least one dose and 66.6% were fully vaccinated.
Of the fully vaccinated population nationally, 46.7% had received a booster dose.