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COVID-19 cases continued to rise in Union County Thursday, and active cases were up to almost the highest level they’ve been since the pandemic began. According to the Arkansas Department of Health, there were 14 new COVID-19 cases in Union County Thursday, bringing the cumulative number of cases identified locally to 1,302.

The cases in the county Thursday included 1,136 confirmed cases, up five from Wednesday, and 166 probable cases, up nine from Wednesday. 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.

One local resident’s death that was a result of COVID-19 was reported Thursday. Fifty-four Union County residents have now died as a result of the virus, indicating a local COVID mortality rate — the percentage of those who die after contracting COVID-19 — of 4.1%.

Two new recoveries were reported locally Thursday, making 1,165 Union County residents considered recovered from the virus. Active cases grew to 83, up 11 from Thursday and representing 6.4% of all the cases identified locally. The number of active cases was at its highest on Aug. 29, when it reached 87 and remained there through Aug. 30; the day before that, there were 85 active cases in the county, and the day before that, 77. The active cases in the county Thursday included 61 confirmed cases and 22 probable cases.

Professors at the Georgia Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers at Stanford University and the Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory in July developed a tool to assess the risk of someone with COVID-19 being in attendance at events of different sizes, all the way down to the county level.

To see the assessed risk levels in the United States, visit https://covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu/#tab-5736-1.

As of Thursday, according to the COVID-19 Risk Assessment Planning Tool, at an event with 10 people held in Union County, there is a 19% risk someone with COVID will be in attendance; at an event with 50 people, there is a 64% risk someone with COVID will be in attendance; and at an event with 100 people, there is an 87% chance someone with COVID will be in attendance.

Demographic information about COVID-19 cases in Union County reported in the Nov. 12 edition of the News-Times showed that Black Arkansans, as well as women in Union County, were contracting COVID-19 at a rate disproportionate to their populations. An ADH spokesperson said on Nov. 11 that the department was working to address the disparity by producing media campaigns targeted to those populations affected, working with faith and other leaders in communities and holding more testing events in largely Black communities.

Another ADH spokesperson provided the News-Times with more detail on the department’s efforts Thursday, stating that they have also been working with fraternities and sororities to get the word out about both COVID and the importance of getting a flu shot. Already this year, four Arkansans have died as a result of the seasonal flu.

Additionally, the ADH spokesperson said the department has partnered with the state’s Minority Health Commission to deploy a mobile testing unit to communities around the state. While no testing events with the mobile unit are currently planned in Union County, the spokesperson said it’s possible they will be able to partner with a local agency to hold a testing event some time in the future.

A report on COVID-19 cases in educational institutions around the state produced by the ADH on Thursday showed five active cases in the Smackover-Norphlet School District. In total, seven faculty or staff members and 25 students in the SNSD have contracted COVID since the start of the school year, according to the report.

The report also showed five active cases at South Arkansas Community College, where 28 people in total have contracted the virus. According to SouthArk, as of Nov. 6, the college has documented 35 total cases, including three in employees and 32 in students.

There were 131 people hospitalized in the Southwest Public Health Region of the state, where Union County is located, Thursday, including 49 in intensive care units and 20 on ventilator support. During a press conference Thursday, Arkansas Center for Health Improvement President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson showed a graph indicating there were 3.94 new cases over the last two weeks for every 1,000 residents in the SW region.

The ADH reported 162 new negative test results returned from Union County Thursday, indicating a one-day local positivity rate of 8% based on the number of new cases and results reported. In all, 14,321 COVID-19 test results have returned from Union County, including 13,019 negatives, indicating an overall local positivity rate of 9.1%.

In Arkansas, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases grew by 1,809 to reach 128,006 Thursday. The cases in the state Thursday included 115,228 confirmed cases, up 1,285 from Wednesday, and 12,778 probable cases, up 524 from Wednesday.

The number of active cases in Arkansas again reached a new high Thursday, growing by 800 to reach 14,491; the active cases in the state Thursday represented 11.3% of all the cases identified in Arkansas. The active cases in the state Thursday included 10,896 confirmed cases and 3,595 probable cases. There were 111,357 Arkansans considered recovered from the virus Thursday, up 992 from Wednesday.

The deaths of 18 Arkansans that resulted from COVID-19 were reported Thursday, bringing the state’s death toll to 2,144, indicating a state COVID mortality rate of 1.7%. There were 805 Arkansans hospitalized due to the virus Thursday, including 295 in ICUs and 116 on ventilator support.

The ADH reported 12,904 new COVID-19 test results returned Thursday, indicating a one-day positivity rate for the state of 14% based on the number of new cases and results reported. Since the state began testing for COVID-19, 1,558,007 results have returned to the ADH, including 1,428,081 negatives, indicating an overall positivity rate for the state of 8.2%.

At 2:15 p.m. Thursday, Johns Hopkins University reported 10,488,531 COVID-19 cases in the United States. Of those, 3,997,204 people were considered recovered, leaving 6,249,017 cases — 59.6% — active nationwide. There had been 242,310 deaths attributable to the virus in the U.S. by Thursday afternoon, indicating a national COVID mortality rate of 2.3%.

Johns Hopkins reported 52,523,976 COVID-19 cases worldwide Thursday afternoon. Of those, 33,949,013 people were considered recovered from the virus, leaving 17,285,489 cases — 32.9% — active around the world. There had been 1,289,474 deaths attributable to the virus by Thursday afternoon, indicating a global COVID mortality rate of 2.5%.

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