LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that the state of Arkansas has set a new record for the numbers of active cases and new cases of COVID-19 during his weekly news briefing Tuesday.
Hutchinson announced there are currently 32,280 active cases of the virus in the state, an increase of 5,118 from the previous day. He also reported 6,562 new cases, bringing the pandemic total to 581,134.
The previous record was from January 9 of 2021, when there were 27,822 active cases. The governor noted that the current peak in cases is happening at a much steeper rate than the previous records in January and the delta-variant fueled surge seen late in the summer of 2021.
Hutchinson also reported that there were 27 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, bringing the state’s total to 9,248 during the pandemic.
The governor also reported a jump of 53 patients being hospitalized due to COVID-19, bringing the state’s current total to 775. There were also three more patients put on ventilators, moving that number to 118.
While hospitalizations are spiking, the current levels are still below the peaks seen in August of 2021. Hutchinson warned though that the steep uptick being seen currently could quickly stress already challenged hospitals around the state.
Vaccinations around the state showed a strong increase following the holiday, with 9,400 doses being administered in the last 24 hours. There are currently 1,509,843 Arkansans fully immunized from the virus, with another 357,124 having partial immunity.
Rates of vaccinations in the state is showing a wide range based on age, with 73.6 percent of residents 65 and older being fully vaccinated. Overall, only 53.1% of Arkansans eligible to be fully vaccinated have taken all of their doses.
Arkansas Sec. of Health Dr. Jose Romero stressed the state’s desire for children to get vaccinated, noting that while hospital capacity for children was holding now, it could quickly become overwhelmed.
Education secretary Johnny Key credited local school leaders with the success they have seen with keeping students in the classroom over the first semester of the current school year but also advised that those same local leaders will need to be tracking the latest numbers to see if mask mandates need to be considered again with the spiking case count.
Hutchinson also noted how testing spikes are corresponding with the record case counts, explaining that the 7-day average positivity rate for testing in Arkansas is 25.5%, also a new record.
He said the state is working both on increasing the number of tests available around Arkansas as well as getting additional personnel resources to shorten testing wait times, like the National Guard team he visited earlier in the day at UAMS in Little Rock. Hutchinson said he was adding 50 National Guardsmen around the state to help local hospitals.
Even with all the surges in cases, Hutchinson noted that he thinks Arkansas is beyond statewide mandates on masking and vaccinations.