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Two local COVID deaths reported; few active cases in schools

by Caitlan Butler | February 19, 2021 at 7:30 p.m.

The Arkansas Department of Health reported one new COVID-19 case in Union County Friday, bringing the cumulative total of cases identified locally to 3,612. The new case was a confirmed case, of which 2,793 have been identified locally; 819 probable cases have been identified in the county.

The United States Centers for Disease Control considers positive results from PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests to be confirmed cases and positive results from antigen (rapid) tests to be probable cases.

Two deaths attributable to COVID-19 were reported in Union County Friday. One hundred Union County residents have now died as a result of the virus, indicating a local COVID mortality rate -- the percentage of people who have died after contracting the virus -- of 2.8%.

Active cases fell to their lowest level in months, dropping by 15 to reach 76; they represented 2.1% of all the cases identified locally and included 55 confirmed cases and 21 probable cases. There were 3,436 Union County residents considered recovered from the virus Friday, up 14 from Thursday.

A report on COVID cases in educational institutions produced by the ADH on Feb. 18 showed fewer than 100 active cases in K-12 public school students and staff statewide; among those reporting active cases were the El Dorado and Junction City school districts.

According to the report, as of Feb. 18, there were nine active COVID-19 cases in the ESD, where a total of 287 cases, 89 in staff and faculty and 187 in students, have been identified. Five active cases were reported in the JCSD, where a total of 52 cases, 16 in staff and faculty and 36 in students, have been identified.

Danyelle McNeill, an ADH spokesperson, said the department hopes the winter weather seen throughout the state this week could lead to lower numbers of COVID cases.

“It's difficult to predict how cases will increase or decrease next week,” she said in an email. “It's also difficult to predict how much of an impact being snowed in will have on case numbers. People may have stayed in more because of the weather, but spread is also possible in shelters or other places where people had to be together.”

There were 122 people hospitalized Friday in the Southwest hospital region of the state, where Union County is located, including 51 in intensive care units and 20 on ventilator support.

The ADH reported no new negative test results returned from Union County Friday.

McNeill said the weather conditions did make it difficult to get out for COVID testing. Additionally, local health units were closed through much of the state several days this week and the Medical Center of South Arkansas suspended drive-through COVID testing due to the weather.

“We have seen a decrease of new and active cases and hospitalizations for the past several weeks. This week case numbers are also lower because it's far more difficult to get out for testing given the weather conditions,” McNeill said. “As testing will likely increase, it is possible that we will see more cases than we had this week.”

In all, 29,135 COVID-19 test results have returned from Union County, including 25,523 negatives, indicating an overall local positivity rate of 12.4%.

Arkansas added 268 new COVID-19 cases Friday to its cumulative total, which reached 314,713. The cases in the state included 249,176 confirmed cases, up 180 from Thursday, and 65,537 probable cases, up 88 from Thursday.

The number of active cases in the state fell to 6,478, down 845 from Thursday; they represented 2.1% of all the cases identified in Arkansas and included 4,518 confirmed cases and 1,960 probable cases. There were 302,872 Arkansans considered recovered from the virus Friday, up 1,100 from Thursday.

The deaths of 13 Arkansans that resulted from COVID-19 were reported Friday, bringing the state’s death toll to 5,336, indicating a state COVID mortality rate of 1.7%. There were 630 Arkansans hospitalized due to the virus Friday, including 237 in ICUs and 108 on ventilator support.

The ADH reported 2,733 new COVID-19 test results returned Friday and 191,508 returned so far this month. Since the state began testing for the virus, 3,021,279 results have returned to the ADH, including 2,695,142 negatives, indicating an overall positivity rate for the state of 10.4%.

As of Friday afternoon, 498,158 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines had been administered in Arkansas. There had been 752,525 doses allocated to the state by then, according to the ADH.

At 1:45 p.m. Friday, Johns Hopkins University reported 27,938,267 COVID-19 cases in the United States. Data wasn’t available then on the number of U.S. residents considered recovered from the virus or the number of active cases in the country. There had been 494,614 deaths attributable to the virus reported in the U.S. by Friday afternoon, indicating a national COVID mortality rate of 1.8%.

Johns Hopkins reported 110,547,030 COVID-19 cases worldwide Friday afternoon. There were 62,259,397 people considered recovered from the virus then, leaving 45,840,018 cases -- 41.5% -- active around the world. There had been 2,447,615 deaths attributable to the virus reported by Friday afternoon, indicating a global COVID mortality rate of 2.2%.

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