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Union County topped 2,400 COVID-19 cases Thursday as the Arkansas Department of Health reported 44 new cases in the county, bringing the cumulative total of cases identified locally to 2,428.

All the new cases were confirmed cases, as determined by positive PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests; there were 1,863 confirmed cases in the county Thursday and 565 probable cases. Probable cases are determined by positive antigen tests, per distinctions made by the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

In the last week, a total of 232 cases have been identified in Union County. The week before that, 247 new cases were identified, and the week before that, 194. In December, a total of 843 COVID-19 cases have been identified in the county.

The number of local active cases grew by eight to reach 286 Thursday, surpassing a record set on Dec. 27; they represented 11.8% of all the cases identified locally and included 224 confirmed cases and 62 probable cases. There were 2,069 Union County residents considered recovered from the virus Thursday, up 36 from Wednesday.

There were 648 COVID-19 recoveries recorded in Union County in December. Active cases fluctuated throughout the month, ranging from a low of 103 on Dec. 3 to Thursday’s record high.

A report on COVID cases in educational institutions produced by the ADH Thursday showed further reduction in the number of active cases in students and staff in the El Dorado and Parkers Chapel school districts.

According to the report, the number of active cases in the ESD fell by one between Dec. 28, when the last such report was produced, and Dec. 31, to 23, while active cases in the PCSD also fell by one to seven.

A total of 170 cases have been identified in the ESD’s staff and student bodies, 10 more than had been on Dec. 28; 60 of the cases were in staff and faculty and 108 were in students, according to the report. No new cases were identified in the PCSD between Dec. 28 and 31; 44 cases in total have been identified in the district, including 15 in staff and faculty and 26 in students. Parkers Chapel is set to begin its spring semester Monday, and students in El Dorado will return to class Tuesday.

No new local deaths attributable to COVID-19 were reported Thursday. Between May 8 and Dec. 31, a total of 73 Union County residents died as a result of the virus, including three in the last week. Fourteen people in Union County died as a result of the virus in December.

There were 198 people hospitalized, including 72 in intensive care units and 34 on ventilator support, in the Southwest hospital region of the state, where Union County is located, Thursday. Last Thursday, there were 156 hospitalized in the region, with 61 in ICUs and 25 on ventilator support.

The ADH reported 277 new negative test results returned from Union County Thursday, indicating a one-day local positivity rate of 13.7% based on the number of new cases and results reported. In December, a total of 4,813 COVID-19 test results returned from Union County, including 3,970 negatives. In all, 20,882 test results have returned from Union County, including 18,454 negatives, indicating an overall local positivity rate of 11.6%.

Arkansas’ cumulative total of COVID-19 cases grew to 225,138, an increase of 2,708 from Wednesday. The cases in the state included 186,784 confirmed cases, up 1,837 from Wednesday, and 38,354 probable cases, up 871 from Wednesday.

In December, a total of 65,829 COVID-19 cases were identified in Arkansas.

Active cases in the state increased to 22,189, up 336 from Wednesday; they represented 9.9% of all the cases in the state and included 15,780 confirmed cases and 6,409 probable cases. There were 199,247 Arkansans considered recovered from the virus Thursday, up 2,333 from Wednesday.

The deaths of 39 Arkansans that resulted from COVID-19 were reported Thursday, bringing the state’s death toll to 3,676, indicating a state COVID mortality rate of 1.6%. A total of 1,164 Arkansans died as a result of the virus in December.

There were 1,195 Arkansans hospitalized due to the virus Thursday, setting a record for the third day in a row; 372 of those hospitalized were in an ICU and 209 were on ventilator support.

The ADH reported 16,829 new COVID-19 test results returned Thursday, indicating a one-day positivity rate for the state of 16.1% based on the number of new cases and results reported. In December, 445,506 test results returned to the ADH. Since the state began testing for the virus, 2,297,510 results have returned to the ADH, including 2,064,908 negatives, indicating an overall positivity rate for the state of 9.8%.

At 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Johns Hopkins University reported 19,906,569 COVID-19 cases in the United States. Data wasn’t available on the number of U.S. residents considered recovered or the number of active cases in the U.S. A total of 344,525 deaths attributable to the virus had been reported in the U.S. by Thursday afternoon, indicating a national COVID mortality rate of 1.7%.

Johns Hopkins reported 83,207,199 COVID-19 cases worldwide Thursday afternoon. There were 46,957,892 people considered recovered from the virus then, leaving 34,436,078 cases — 41.4% — active around the world. There had been 1,813,229 deaths attributable to the virus reported by Thursday afternoon, indicating a global COVID mortality rate of 2.2%.

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