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COVID cases in Arkansas seem to be following familiar pattern

Healthcare workers attend to people being tested at UAMS' drive-thru triage location.
Michael Hibblen
A drive thru COVID-19 testing location at UAMS on July 23, 2020.

For a third day in a row, Arkansas reported more than a thousand new infections of COVID-19 on Thursday.

The Department of Health’s website showed there were 1,192 new known cases. State Epidemiologist Dr. Mike Cima says the number of new infections is following a familiar pattern.

“This is something that we saw last year as well as school began. We were exiting the delta wave of the summer in 2021 and cases were coming down. When school started we saw a little bit of an increase in cases, primarily among younger individuals,” Cima said. “The same thing seems to be happening again this year.”

With new infections outpacing recoveries and deaths, the number of cases considered active grew by 138 on Thursday to 10,843. That's about one-third fewer than on the same day last month.

Ten additional deaths were reported while the number of hospitalizations ticked up by two with 307 people being treated statewide. That is about 100 fewer than a month ago.

With fall beginning in less than a month on Sept. 22 and colder temperatures ahead, Cima says an increase in the spread of raspatory viruses, including the coronavirus, is expected.

“In the fall months, raspatory viruses tend to spread more efficiently,” he said. “It stands to reason as we get farther away from this summer peak and deeper into the cold weather months we will see another increase of COVID-19 cases.”

The predominant subvariant impacting most people continues to be BA.5, Cima said. It spreads more easily compared to previous strains of COVID-19, but doesn’t make people as sick.

Since the pandemic arrived in Arkansas in March 2020, there have been 927,072 cases of people becoming infected with COVID-19. The number of deaths in the state is currently at 11,887.

Michael Hibblen was a journalist for KUAR News from May 2009 — December 2022. During his final 10 years with the station, he served as News Director. In January 2023, he was hired by Arkansas PBS to become its Senior Producer/ Director of Public Affairs.
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