The Arkansas Department of Health reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 in Union County Wednesday, bringing the cumulative number of cases identified locally to 1,288. The cases in the county Wednesday included 1,131 confirmed cases, up five from Tuesday, and 157 probable cases, up six from Tuesday.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control, the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests that determine confirmed cases are more sensitive than the antigen tests that determine probable cases.
Eleven new recoveries were also reported locally Wednesday, making 1,163 Union County residents considered recovered from the virus. Active cases stayed steady at 72, representing 5.6% of all the cases identified locally. The active cases in Union County Wednesday included 58 confirmed cases and 14 probable cases.
According to a demographic breakdown of cases in Union County provided to the News-Times by the ADH, as of the afternoon of Nov. 9, COVID-19 cases identified locally for the most part followed trends seen statewide.
According to the ADH, 57% of cases identified locally, or 726 cases, had been identified in women and girls in Union County, while 42%, or 536 cases, were in men and boys. Female persons made up 51.3% of Union County’s population between 2010 and 2019, indicating that women and girls have a slightly disproportionate share of local cases.
In Arkansas as a whole, 50.8% of cases were in female persons and 48.7% in males. Female persons make up 50.9% of all of the state’s population, indicating that statewide, women and girls have contracted the virus at an expected level.
The ADH also reported that in Union County, 43% of cases, or 542, had been identified in Black or African American residents; 44%, or 560 cases, had been identified in white residents; 4%, or 45 cases, had been identified in residents identifying as a race other than Black or white; and 9%, or 120 cases, had been contracted by residents whose race was unknown.
According to the United States Census Bureau, between 2010 and 2019, Black people made up only 33% of Union County’s population, while white people accounted for 64% of the local population. Those identifying as a race other than Black or white, or as multi-racial made up 7.2% of the local population. The data indicates that local Black residents have contracted the virus at a disproportionate rate, following national trends as reported by Johns Hopkins University.
The racial disparity is smaller on the state-level, but still evident; according to the ADH, Black Arkansans had contracted 19.3% of cases identified in the state while only making up 15.7% of the state’s population. White people account for 79% of the state’s population, but have contracted only 60.6% of the state’s cases.
Dr. Lisa Cooper, a professor at Johns Hopkins’ School of Public Health and School of Medicine, as well as the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity, attributes the disparity to multiple factors, including pre-existing disparities in the rates of chronic medical conditions, inequalities in socio-economic status, living conditions and access and quality of health care and over-representation in “essential” jobs and in jobs that do not provide paid sick leave or the ability to work from home.
A spokesperson for the ADH said the department has taken steps including working with faith leaders and other leaders in communities, targeted media campaigns and testing events in largely Black communities to address the disparity.
Three percent of the cases identified in Union County were in Hispanic or Latino people, who make up 4.2% of Union County’s population, according to the Census Bureau. Most cases, 80%, were in non-Hispanic or Latino people.
Statewide, 14.8% of cases were in Hispanic or Latino people, who make up 7.8% of the state’s population. An outbreak in Northwest Arkansas disproportionately affected both Hispanic and Latino people and Marshallese residents who worked in large chicken processing plants throughout the region, according to news reports.
Most local cases were identified in those in the 45-64 age range (29% or 370 cases). Following those were people in the 25-44 age range (25% or 321 cases); people 65 or older (24% or 305 cases); those under the age of 18 (12% or 152 cases); and those in the 18-24 range (9% or 118 cases).
Additionally, about 38% of those in Union County who had contracted the virus by Nov. 9 also had a comorbid condition. According to the ADH, 9% (113) of those who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the county have diabetes; 5% (58) have heart disease; 19% (235) have high blood pressure; 2% (25) have chronic lung disease; 2% (22) have chronic kidney disease; and 1% (15) have a weakened immune system.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 12.6% of Union County’s residents have a disability, and 9.1% of those under the age of 65 do not have health insurance. According to Johns Hopkins, a lack of access to health care services can contribute to higher rates of COVID-19 infection and death.
No new local deaths attributable to COVID-19 were reported Wednesday. Fifty-three Union County residents have died as a result of the virus. In the Southwest Public Health Region, where Union County is located, 129 people were hospitalized due to the virus Wednesday, including 51 in intensive care units and 24 on ventilator support.
The ADH reported 90 new negative test results returned from Union County Wednesday, indicating a one-day local positivity rate of 10.9% based on the number of new cases and results reported. In all, 14,145 COVID-19 test results have returned from Union County, including 12,857 negatives, indicating an overall local positivity rate of 9.1%.
Arkansas as a whole saw its most dramatic one-day increase in cases yet Wednesday, reaching 126,197 cumulative cases, up 1,962 from Tuesday. The cases in the state Wednesday included 113,943 confirmed cases, up 1,207 from Tuesday, and 12,254 probable cases, up 755 from Tuesday.
There were 110,365 Arkansans considered recovered from the virus Wednesday, up 1,130 from Tuesday. Active cases reached another new high, growing by 817 to reach 13,691 Wednesday; they represented 10.8% of all the cases identified in Arkansas. The active cases in the state Wednesday included 10,399 confirmed cases and 3,292 probable cases.
The deaths of 14 Arkansans that resulted from COVID-19 were reported Wednesday, bringing the state’s death toll to 2,126, indicating a state COVID mortality rate of 1.7%. There were 801 Arkansans hospitalized due to the virus Wednesday, down eight from Tuesday, including 304 in ICUs and 116 on ventilator support.
The ADH reported 11,637 new COVID-19 test results returned to the department, indicating a one-day positivity rate for the state of 16.9% based on the number of new cases and results reported. Since the state began testing for the virus, 1,542,003 results have returned, including 1,413,965 negatives, indicating an overall positivity rate for the state of 8.2%.
At 4:40 p.m. Wednesday, Johns Hopkins reported 10,361,918 COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Of those, 3,961,873 people were considered recovered from the virus, leaving 6,159,263 cases — 59.4% — active nationwide. There had been 240,782 deaths attributable to the virus in the U.S. by Wednesday afternoon, indicating a national COVID mortality rate of 2.3%.
Johns Hopkins reported 51,926,961 COVID-19 cases worldwide Wednesday afternoon. Of those, 33,765,696 people were considered recovered from the virus, leaving 16,880,666 cases — 32.5% — active around the world. There had been 1,280,599 deaths attributable to the virus by Wednesday afternoon, indicating a global COVID mortality rate of 2.5%.