The Arkansas Department of Health reported 2,181 new COVID-19 cases in the state Wednesday. While hospitalizations declined by 19, the number of deaths rose by 34.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during his weekly press conference on the pandemic That as of Wednesday morning, there were 23 reported intensive care unit beds available statewide for COVID-19 and general ICU. At least 10 of the available ICU beds are for COVID-19 patients. In addition, there are two pediatric ICU beds available in the state.
“That’s closer than we’d like, but it’s better than it has been,” said Hutchinson.
The governor announced there will be 27 new ICU beds coming online in the state this month.
“We are trying to get ahead of the curve. If there is a curve that goes up, hopefully it goes down,” Hutchinson said. “We want to bring on new beds in September to meet any additional needs that will be out there.”
The governor also announced the state will be receiving a 20-person medical military team from the Department of Defense to assist with a staffing shortage at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
“This will add to the staffing capacity at UAMS that will help us to increase our capacity for managing both COVID and non COVID emergencies and health needs that are out there,” Hutchinson said.
The additional medical staff are to arrive Thursday, Hutchinson said. They are expected to stay in the state for 30 days, but that time can be extended based on needs.
Education Secretary Johnny Key said that there are 470,000 students enrolled in public schools across the state and about 24,000 students registered to be homeschooled.
School districts in western Yell and Lafayette County have shifted to remote learning, he said, while the Rogers School District had one elementary school shift to remote learning.
Key said districts that are having more challenges typically have a lower vaccination rates especially within the staff.
“The numbers reported by the health department in school cases are higher this year than they were last year, which is to be expected because of the delta variant,” he explained, “However, the number of interruptions has not been as frequent this year because of the vaccine being available.”
Key announced there will be three vaccine clinics on Friday during high school football games in Warren, McGehee and Lonoke county. Vaccines will be available to anyone in those communities or visiting communities.