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Arkansas posts record jump in COVID hospitalizations

Healthcare workers attend to people being tested at UAMS' drive-thru triage location.
Michael Hibblen
Doctors and nurses testing people for the coronavirus at a UAMS drive thru in Little Rock on July 23, 2020.

Arkansas saw its biggest one day jump in people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday as a state panel gave initial approval to setting aside more funds for hospital beds to deal with a surge in cases because the omicron variant.

The number of people in the state hospitalized with COVID-19 increased Monday by 184 to 1,817, the highest number since the pandemic began in 2020.

The Arkansas American Rescue Plan Act Steering Committee approved using $4.7 million in federal funds to open up 20 more hospital beds and seven intensive care unit beds to treat COVID-19 patients at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

The funding request for the additional beds, which would be available immediately, will also go before lawmakers this week.

“We have reports from parts of the state that beds are scarce and having this additional allotment of beds would certainly meet the need,” Dr. Jose Romero, the state’s healthy secretary, told the panel.

The money is in addition to $50 million in federal funds the state has already set aside to open hospital beds statewide as it faces surge in virus cases fueled by the highly contagious omicron variant.

The state on Monday also reported 3,243 new cases and 22 new deaths from COVID-19. The true number of cases, though, is likely higher due to people who are testing at home or who are infected but haven’t been tested.

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