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UAMS chancellor calls steady decline of COVID cases ‘great news’

UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson, seen here in a file photo from Nov. 10, 2021, says he's very encouraged by the overall downward trend in cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas.
Michael Hibblen
UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson, seen here at an event on Nov. 10, 2021, said Wednesday he's very encouraged by the overall downward trend in cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas.

Recoveries from COVID-19 continue outpacing new infections in Arkansas, with data from the state Department of Health showing the number of active cases is at the lowest level in more than two months.

Hospitalizations have remained below 300 for the past two weeks. At the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Chancellor Cam Patterson said Wednesday that 16 people were being treated for complications of COVID-19. Fewer staff members having to be isolated because of potential exposures is also helping the situation, he said.

“We only have about a hundred of our employees who are in quarantine. Those are near lows for the past couple of years, so it’s all good news,” Dr. Patterson said in an interview with KUAR News.

The decline has allowed the Little Rock hospital to resume normal operation, he said, but warns that people can’t completely let their guard down.

“We can’t predict the future. We will have to see how this plays out, and I suspect that we’ll continue to have bumps up and down, that’s to be expected,” Patterson said. “It’s not in our rear-view mirror, but right now we’ve got it under control.”

Hospitalizations increased statewide by 10 on Wednesday, with 286 people being treated, according to the Department of Health’s website. That’s 53 fewer than the same date last month.

The department also reported 1,019 new cases. The number of active cases fell by 56 compared to Tuesday, with 9,596 people being impacted by the virus. That’s the lowest number since June 27 and about 1,300 fewer than the same day a week ago.

Patterson said the overall decline is reflective of the ongoing efforts to fight the spread of the virus.

“I think that all the work that we have done in terms of educating our community, vaccinations, better therapies is paying off for us. We’re seeing that at UAMS as well,” he said.

The department reported six additional deaths on Wednesday. The toll since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 is now just 30 short of reaching 12,000 deaths.

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.
Josie Lenora is the Politics/Government Reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.