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Active COVID cases in Arkansas fall to lowest level in six weeks

UAMS Medical Assistant Latondra Ford sticks a swab deep into the nose of a North Little Rock Police officer being tested for the coronavirus.
Michael Hibblen
/
KUAR News
UAMS Medical Assistant Latondra Ford tests a North Little Rock Police officer for COVID-19 on July 23, 2020.

The number of active cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas on Monday fell to its lowest level in six weeks, according to the state Department of Health.

Recoveries continue outpacing new infections, with the number of people feeling the effects of the virus and possibly being contagious dropping by 860 since Sunday to 11,044. No additional deaths were reported on Sunday or Monday.

“The cases in Arkansas are continuing to decrease and have been doing so now for a couple of weeks, so that is definitely encouraging,” said state Epidemiologist Mike Cima.

346 people were reported to be hospitalized statewide. While that’s up by seven since Sunday, it’s 23 fewer people than the same day a week ago. 462 new cases of people testing positive for the virus were reported on Monday.

The overall downturn of cases comes as most Arkansas school districts are beginning a new school year this week or next week. Cima said the state is in a better position now compared to the same time over the previous two years.

“We've had two school years under our belt here in Arkansas,” Cima said, “each progressively getting, you know, back to a sense of normal. Whether or not we actually get back to normal remains to be seen, but we know what works.”

He says mitigation measures are in place or can be implemented if there is another surge in cases. Vaccines are also readily available.

The subvariants currently impacting most people in the state are easily transmitted, he said, but aren’t making people as sick as previous subvariants.

“These viruses, especially BA.5, [are] extremely adept at evading prior immunity whether it’s natural immunity or vaccine-derived immunity. However, what we’re seeing is that immunity is still providing pretty robust protection against severe disease. That’s evidenced by our diminished number of hospitalizations [during] this surge compared to previous surges as well as ICU admissions, ventilations and deaths," Cima said.

The number of deaths since the start of the pandemic in Arkansas is currently at 11,822.

Michael Hibblen is News Director of UA Little Rock Public Radio. A 34-year radio veteran, he oversees the KUAR News staff, plans coverage and edits stories while also reporting and anchoring newscasts.