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Report: Arkansas could be heading for third surge of COVID-19

U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Arkansas has seen nearly 6,000 new coronavirus infections and 86 deaths in the last week.

New projections from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences suggest the state could be heading toward a third wave of coronavirus infections.

The latest report by the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health predicts cases, hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19 are all expected to rise over the next few weeks. This comes as COVID-19 is once again on the rise in Arkansas, adding 5,769 cases and 86 deaths in the last week.

The report forecasts 11,482 new cases of COVID-19 by next week, and 23,848 cases by the end of the month. Cases are expected to rise on average by over 750 each day.

Hospitalizations and deaths are expected to rise toward the end of the month, which is typical of the lag-time seen following surges in new cases. The report predicts 54 new deaths and 430 new hospitalizations from the disease by the end of December.

While much is still unknown about the new omicron variant of the coronavirus, the report says the highly-contagious delta variant continues to be the dominant force behind new infections in Arkansas.

“We do know the Delta variant, the dominant variant in Arkansas, is highly infectious and capable of causing severe illness in children and adults,” the report states. “We also know there are sufficient numbers of unvaccinated citizens in Arkansas to drive a third surge in the state.”

If the state is heading toward a third surge of the virus, the report states it will likely peak in February or early March.

Daniel Breen is News Director of Little Rock Public Radio.