ICU Bed Availability Continues To Decline In Arkansas; More Schools In High COVID Areas

Credit U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Available ICU beds in Arkansas fell in Friday’s report to 37, down from 46 on Thursday and well below the 73 on Tuesday, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. Total cumulative known confirmed and probable cases rose by 2,878 to 197,421, and confirmed and probable active cases rose by 733 to 22,392. Total deaths rose by 27 to 3,139.

“The 19,000 plus COVID-19 tests reported today are a record high. There continues to be a high level of spread throughout our communities, in both highly-populated areas and more rural areas. We must remain diligent over the weekend and not relax in following the public health guidelines,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement with Friday’s ADH report.

The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI) reported Thursday that there are 150 Arkansas school districts with 50 or more new known COVID-19 infections per 10,000 district residents over a 14-day period, up from 113 a week ago and a new record high. The ACHI also found that 23 school districts — up from 15 the previous week, also a record high — had exceeded 100 new known infections per 10,000 district residents over a 14-day period.

“Hope for the future has come with two new vaccines before Christmas, but the present threat is greater than ever and will be with us for several months to come,” said ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson. “We must approach the holidays with the goals to keep our schools open and keep our hospitals from being overrun.”

The nine members of the Arkansas Senate Democratic Caucus on Friday called for a “stronger response” by Gov. Hutchinson to the pandemic. The statement listed six areas in which more rules or relief is needed: Restaurants and bar, event venues, educators and schools, food processing, renter protection and childcare.

Recommendations in the statement included:

  • Limit restaurant/bar seating to ventilated outdoor spaces, or carryout and delivery only, in counties in red and orange zones, as defined by the White House Coronavirus Task Force
  • Pay employees of these establishments an additional $300 per week in unemployment insurance benefits while providing support to business owners to cover rent, utilities, and other expenses
  • Limit gatherings to 10 or fewer people for all event venues in red and orange zones
  • Pay teachers $500 to cover the expenses of additional personal protective equipment (PPE) purchases, or give them a state income tax holiday for the remainder of the school year
  • The governor should extend the eviction moratorium for additional six months to provide families certainty about housing

COVID REPORT – Dec. 18
New known COVID-19 cases, active cases, tests

  • 167,434 known cumulative PCR cases, with 1,864 new community cases and 58 reported cases in correctional facilities
  • 29,987 probable cases, up from 29,031 on Thursday
  • There are 16,682 active cases, up from 16,446 on Thursday
  • There were 13,816 test results provided in the previous 24 hours
  • There were 5,262 antigen tests in the previous 24 hours

Deaths:

2,776, up 21
363 probable COVID-related deaths, up 6

Hospitalizations: 1,073, down 11

Ventilators: 181, down 7

Recovered cases: 147,953

The top five counties with new known cases reported Friday were: Pulaski (355), Washington (237), Benton (230), Craighead (118), and Pope (109). The counties accounted for 56.3% of the 1,864 new community cases.

As of Friday at 1 p.m., there were 17,293,160 U.S. cases and 311,993 deaths. Globally, there were 75,298,991 cases and 1,669,033 deaths.