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More new cases reported locally than recoveries

State as a whole fares better by Caitlan Butler | April 3, 2021 at 8:30 p.m.

For the first time in several weeks, the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in Union County was greater than the number of people who met the criteria for recovery.

Since last Sunday, a total of 31 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Union County, while there were only 23 new recoveries, according to data from the Arkansas Department of Health.

As of Saturday, 3,944 COVID-19 cases had been identified in Union County. Most of the cases — 2,916 altogether — that have been reported in the county are confirmed cases, determined by positive PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, while the remaining 1,028 cases are probable cases, determined by positive antigen (rapid) tests.

Recoveries stalled out last week at 3,817, as no new recoveries have been reported since Wednesday.

The number of active cases in the county hit its lowest point early in the week, at eight on Monday; since then, the number has slowly ticked up, reaching a high point of 15 on Saturday. The active cases in the county Saturday were comprised of 13 confirmed cases and two probable cases.

Additionally, two Union County residents’ deaths that resulted from COVID-19 were reported last week. In total, 111 local residents have died as a result of the virus, and the local COVID mortality rate — the percentage of people who have contracted the virus and died as a result — was 2.8% as of Saturday.

Vaccination clinics were held throughout the week at the Union County Local Health Unit, contributing to the 13,290 vaccine doses that were administered last week in the Southwest hospital region of the state where Union County sits, up from about 12,000 the week before.

In total, 130,883 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the Southwest region. According to the ADH, 10.6% of the region’s population is partially immunized and 15.5% is fully immunized against the virus.

According to Arkansas COVID, a University of Arkansas School of Journalism and Strategic Media program that has been tracking COVID-19 data in the state, on March 31, about 10% of Union County’s population, or 3,097 people, were partially immunized against the virus, while 11%, or 3,470 people, were fully immunized.

A number of mass vaccination clinics are scheduled this week in the Southwest hospital region, which encompasses Montgomery, Garland, Pike, Hot Spring, Clark, Dallas, Howard, Sevier, Little Rock, Hempstead, Nevada, Ouachita, Calhoun, Miller, Lafayette and Union counties.

Starting Tuesday, daily clinics will be held through Friday at the Miller County Local Health Unit, at 503 Walnut in Texarkana. On Tuesday, the clinic will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Wednesday through Friday it will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Additionally, on Thursday, April 8, the ADH will hold clinics at the Sevier County Local Health Unit, at 304 N. 4th St. in DeQueen; and at the Montgomery County Local Health Unit, at 346 Luzerne in Mt. Ida. The clinic in DeQueen will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the clinic in Mt. Ida will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

On Friday, April 9, ADH vaccine clinics will be held at the Clark County Local Health Unit, at 605 S. 10th St. in Arkadelphia; and at the Howard County Local Health Unit, at 201 E. Hempstead in Nashville. Both clinics will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All ADH clinics are held by appointment only. To set an appointment at an ADH vaccine clinic scheduled for next week, call 1-800-985-6030. There will be no out of pocket costs to any person seeking vaccination, though those with insurance may be asked to show their cards.

A non-ADH vaccine clinic will also be held on Thursday in Chidester, Ouachita County, at 118 Willow Street, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 870-836-5015 to set an appointment.

COVID-19 vaccines are also being offered in Union County at the Medical Center of South Arkansas, Melvin’s Discount Pharmacy and Walmart. To set an appointment at MCSA, call 870-863-2620; to do so at Melvin’s, call 870-863-4155; and for an appointment at Walmart, visit walmart.com/COVID.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson last week opened up vaccine eligibility to all Arkansas 16 or older, and also repealed the statewide mask mandate that required Arkansans to wear face masks in most public settings to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 community spread.

A News-Times poll created on March 30 garnered 154 responses from members of the community by Saturday afternoon on questions about whether they would continue masking despite the mandate being lifted; on whether they had been vaccinated; and on whether they would wear a mask if a business asked them to.

On the question of whether they would continue wearing a mask, 55.8% of respondents, or 86 people, said they would, while 44.2%, or 68 people, said they would not.

Asked if they were vaccinated or partially vaccinated, 31.8% of respondents, or 47 people, said they were fully vaccinated against the virus; 26.4% of respondents, or 39 people, said they hadn’t been vaccinated yet; 21.6% of respondents, or 32 people, said they were partially immunized, meaning they’d received one of two vaccine doses necessary for fully immunity from the virus; and 20.3% of respondents, or 30 people, said they were not vaccinated and did not plan to get a vaccine.

A vast majority of poll respondents, 78.5%, or 117 people, said they would wear a mask if asked to by a business they wished to enter, while 10.7%, or 16 people, said they would not wear a mask and they would discontinue doing business with the company that required the mask. Ten people, or 6.7% of poll respondents, said they would wear a mask, but they wouldn’t be happy about it, while the remaining six respondents simply said they would not wear a mask if asked to by a business.

Hospitalizations in the Southwest region mostly fell throughout the week, hitting their lowest point on Saturday, with nine people hospitalized due to the virus and none in intensive care units or on ventilator support.

Testing was again low throughout the state, and in Union County, 153 new results returned between last Sunday and Saturday. The local seven-day positivity rate was 20.3%, down from the prior week.

In total, 31,582 COVID-19 test results have returned from Union County, including 27,638 negatives, indicating an overall local positivity rate of 12.5%.

Arkansas as a whole did report 150 more recoveries than new cases last week. On Saturday, the addition of 217 new cases brought the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 cases to 330,970, made up of 259,744 confirmed cases and 71,226 probable cases. Since last Sunday, 1,041 new cases were reported across the state.

Recoveries on Saturday grew by 152 to reach 323,536, making 1,191 total Arkansans meeting the recovery criteria last week.

The number of active cases in the state, however, grew by 63 on Saturday to reach 1,747. Active cases were at their highest point last week on Sunday, when they sat at 1,945; they haven’t reached over 2,000 since then, though their lowest point last week was recorded on Friday, when 1,684 active cases were reported.

Two Arkansans’ deaths that resulted from COVID-19 were reported Saturday, bringing the state’s death toll to 5,641, indicating a state COVID mortality rate of 1.7%. In total, 46 Arkansans’ deaths that were caused by the virus were reported between last Sunday and Saturday.

Over 450,000 Arkansans were fully immunized against the virus by Saturday — 457,778 in total — and an additional 352,912 were partially immunized by then. The state has received a total of 1,819,110 vaccine doses in regular allocations, and 1,234,331 doses have been administered to Arkansans. Nearly 750,000 vaccine doses were administered between last Sunday and Saturday throughout the state.

The ADH reported 41,075 new COVID-19 test results between last Sunday and Saturday, indicating a seven day positivity rate for the state of 2.5%. Hutchinson said on Tuesday he expected testing to stay modest, though he did encourage those who experience symptoms of the virus or who travel to get a COVID test.

Since the state began testing for the virus, 3,402,898 results have returned to the ADH, including 3,058,937 negatives, indicating an overall positivity rate for the state of 9.7%.

Johns Hopkins University reported on Saturday afternoon that there were 30,662,900 COVID-19 cases in the United States, and that the country’s death toll had climbed to 554,717, indicating a national COVID mortality rate of 1.8%.

Since last Sunday, approximately 408,410 COVID-19 cases were identified nationwide, up almost 30,000 from the week before, reflecting a national uptick mentioned by Hutchinson and ADH Secretary Dr. Jose Romero last week. About 5,428 U.S. residents died as a result of the virus last week, down from the week before.

Johns Hopkins reported 130,566,186 COVID-19 cases worldwide on Saturday. There were 73,979,197 people considered recovered from the virus then, leaving 53,744,626 active cases of COVID-19 worldwide. The deaths of 2,842,363 people that resulted from COVID have been recorded, indicating a global COVID mortality rate of 2.2%.

Approximately 3.5 million new COVID-19 cases were reported around the world last week, while about 2 million people met the criteria for recovery. Additionally, approximately 61,597 people died as a result of the virus last week.

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