952 new statewide cases as hospitalizations rise

The following statistics were shared at the governor’s weekly COVID-19 update on Tuesday, Oct. 27, and posted on the Arkansas Department of Health’s (ADH) website:

  • 10-27-20 ADH daily graphic107,679 total cases, up 952 from Monday.
  • 100,061 total confirmed cases, up 651 from Monday. 
  • 7,618 total probable cases, up 301 from Monday.
  • 9,490 total active cases, down 81 from Monday.
  • 90,559 recoveries, up 829 from Monday.
  • 1,857 total deaths, up 20 from Monday.
  • 676 cases requiring hospitalization, up 27 from Monday.
  • 94 cases requiring a ventilator, down eight from Monday. 
  • 2,457 cumulative cases in Garland County, up nine from Monday.
  • 225 active cases in Garland County, down 16 from Monday.
  • 2,166 recoveries in Garland County, up 23 from Monday.
  • 66 deaths in Garland County, up two from Monday.

In the past 24 hours, the number of positive PCR tests added in Arkansas was 651, with 629 from the community and 22 from correctional facilities. There were 301 positive antigen results from a total of 1,795 antigen tests in the past 24 hours. The number of PCR tests completed in the past 24 hours was 7,000. 

There were 14 counties with more than 20 new cases in the past 24 hours, and they included Pulaski with 146, Benton with 77, Washington with 72 and Craighead with 66.

Growth rate charts of new cases in Arkansas between Oct. 18-24 show that by public health region, the Northeast again had the highest percentage of new cases at 7.7%, followed by the Central at 5.7%, Southwest at 5.4%, Northwest at 4.5% and the Southeast at 4.3%. New cases by age group during that same period show that the 65-and-older group has the highest percentage at 7.9%, followed by the 45-64 group at 5.7%, the 25-44 group at 4.9%, the 0-17 group at 4.8% and the 18-24 group at 4.0%. 

Hutchinson began his weekly COVID-19 press conference, which again was held virtually, by responding to those who Hutchinson said are thinking, “We are losing the battle with this virus and we just have to live with it.” He said, “While this is a tough time, and we know we’re going to go through a tough time in the winter, we have to be prepared to fight, and I am prepared to fight. And that’s what we’ve got to do every day.” He also said that testing in the state is at record levels, there are improved treatments and have more engagement from Arkansans in terms of following the public health guidelines. 

That being said, he noted that the state, like the nation, is in a third wave “and we’ve got to work very hard to come down from that wave safely and to get the trend line down.” While showing the charts, he showed that this past week was highest week in confirmed cases the state has had. Hospitalizations are mirroring that increase in cases, and in talking to hospitals, he said they still have capacity for patients and they are working together. He said what they hope to continue are the elective procedures because these procedures are important for the economic health of hospitals, as well as patients and populations. He highlighted the importance for continued efforts to get cases down to get the hospitalizations down so the procedures will not be affected. The positivity rate has also edged up over the past week, Hutchinson said, which they are watching closely.

Testing continues to exceed the goals set for October with the current count of PCR tests at 258,820 and antigen tests at 34,446. 

Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said that of today’s 20 reported deaths, 16 of them were from nursing homes. With the largest growth rate of new cases coming from the 65-and-older population, who are at higher risk for complications with the disease and with death, Romero explained this is contributing to the increase in hospitalizations. 

Romero said this week they had a visit from Operation Warp Speed representatives, who are in charge of development, testing and logistics of providing the vaccine to the states when they are approved by the FDA and CDC. 

Regarding the upcoming holiday season, Romero asked Arkansans to seriously consider whether it is appropriate to bring their families together at this time, particularly among the older populations. He said the increasing number of cases and the spread among the older age groups should weigh into these decisions.

Before introducing Secretary of Education Johnny Key, Hutchinson said the number of active cases in K-12 went down over the past week and that cases in higher education have decreased over the past two weeks, which “indicates that we can control behavior, we can make a difference and mitigate against the risk.”

Key reported that last week there were 11 schools that made modifications to their on-site instruction, which is the lowest number since school began. There are currently 17 total active modifications, as well as a total of 169 previous modifications that are now inactive.  

Regarding the rapid testing pilot for K-12 schools, Key said that of the 14 schools across the state that were identified for the pilot program, so far eight have opted in, five are still considering and one has declined. The Arkansas Department of Health is working to get the test kits shipped to the sites, at which point training will begin before the screening program starts next Monday. A second round in the pilot will include 20 schools, and they are hoping to contact the selected schools by the end of the week.