Arkansas reported no new deaths from covid-19 on Wednesday even as state cases rose by 288.
The number of people hospitalized in the state with covid-19 rose for the second day in a row, with the number on ventilators and in intensive care units reaching their highest levels in almost three months.
Already at its highest level in more than a month, the number of state cases considered active rose by 107, to 2,251, as new cases outpaced recoveries.
“The need to get vaccinated continues to be apparent,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a tweet.
“We have been able to decrease our case numbers and hospitalizations dramatically over the past six months due to the vaccine, but we must increase our vaccination numbers to avoid new cases & hospitalizations.”
Wednesday was the second day this month, and just the seventh this year, in which the state didn’t report any new deaths from covid-19.
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The official toll fell by two, to 5,867, reflecting deaths that were reclassified as being from causes other than covid-19.
The number of people hospitalized rose by seven, to 211, its highest level in a week.
After falling by one on Tuesday, the number of virus patients who were on ventilators rose by three, to 50, its highest level since March 20.
The number in intensive care rose by seven, to 112, its highest level since March 17.
While smaller than the one on Tuesday, the increase in cases Wednesday was the seventh one in a row that was larger than the one a week earlier.
The average number of cases added to the state’s tallies each day over a rolling seven-day period rose to 247, its highest level since March 20.
State Epidemiologist Jennifer Dillaha said she was glad to see a day with no new covid-19 deaths, although the case numbers were “a little higher than we’d like to see.”
She cited infections that occurred over Memorial Day weekend, a decreased use of masks among people who aren’t vaccinated and more-transmissible variants that have been identified in the state as possible reasons for the uptick.
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Also on Wednesday, Health Department spokeswoman Danyelle McNeill said the department’s daily report on the number of people who have ever been hospitalized in the state with covid-19 and the number who have ever been on ventilators only includes people whose infections were confirmed through polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests.
The number with confirmed infections who have ever been hospitalized rose Wednesday by eight, to 16,617, while the number who have ever been on a ventilator rose by two, to 1,694.
Comparable numbers for “probable” cases, which include those identified solely through less-sensitive antigen tests, weren’t available from the department on Wednesday.
NO. 5 IN NEW CASES
The rise in new cases in Arkansas is noted as cases decline in the country as a whole.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of fewer than 12,200 new cases per day were reported nationwide during the seven-day span ending Tuesday, down from more than 14,400 a day the previous week.
Arkansas’ number of new cases per capita over the week ending Tuesday was the fifth-highest among the states and District of Columbia.
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Its number of covid-19 deaths per capita over that span was the 22nd-lowest, however.
Vermont was the only state with no covid-19 deaths during that period, and it also had the lowest number of cases per capita.
It ranks first in the country in vaccinations, with 72.6% of its population having received at least one vaccine dose, including 62.9% who were fully vaccinated, as of Wednesday.
In Arkansas, the number of people who had received at least one vaccine dose rose Wednesday by 2,083, to 1,231,211, or about 40.8% of the state’s population.
The number of fully vaccinated rose by 4,450, to 990,045, or about 32.8% of the population.
The state continued to rank 45th in the percentage of its residents who had received at least one dose and 49th, behind only Alabama and Mississippi, in the percentage who had been fully vaccinated.
Nationally, 52.7% of people had received at least one dose, and 44.1% had been fully vaccinated.
According to Arkansas’ Health Department, the number of vaccine doses that providers in the state reported having administered, including second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, rose by 5,928.
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That was more than 1,000 fewer than the increase the previous week.
The average number of doses administered each day over a rolling seven-day period fell to 5,249, its lowest level since the week ending June 7 and down from a peak of more than 23,000 a day in early April.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Wednesday that 20.9% of Arkansas adults said they “definitely” or “probably” would not get a covid-19 vaccine, according to responses collected May 26 through June 7 in an ongoing survey.
That was the third-highest percentage in the country among the states and District of Columbia.
The highest was in Montana, where 25.5% of adults said they definitely or probably wouldn’t get the vaccine. The next highest, 22.2%, was in Wyoming.
Arkansas’ percentage was up from the 13.4% who said they definitely or probably wouldn’t get the vaccine in responses collected May 12-24, which was the smallest percentage for the state since the Census Bureau added questions about the vaccine to the survey in January.
In the first round of responses collected on the topic, from Jan. 6-18, 28.2% of Arkansas adults said they definitely or probably wouldn’t get vaccinated.
Nationally, 10.7% of adults surveyed in the latest collection period said they definitely or probably wouldn’t get vaccinated.
The latest results included responses from 70,854 people, including 860 in Arkansas, who filled out an online questionnaire after being contacted by email or text message by the Census Bureau.
The survey had a margin of error of 3.2% in Arkansas on the percentage of adults who definitely or probably wouldn’t get the vaccine.
According to the CDC, the Arkansans who had received at least one vaccine dose as of Wednesday included 51.4% of the state’s adults. (The shots can be given to those 12 years old and up.)
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Of the Arkansans who reported in the Census Bureau survey that they had not already gotten a shot, about 21% said they definitely or probably would get vaccinated, while 64% said they definitely or probably wouldn’t.
About 14% were undecided, and less than 1% didn’t answer the question.
Among those who said they definitely or probably wouldn’t get vaccinated, 54% said they don’t trust the vaccines, 48% said they were concerned about side effects and 37% said they don’t trust the government.
CASES BY COUNTY
The cases added Wednesday in Arkansas comprised 197 confirmed and 91 probable ones.
The state’s cumulative count of cases rose to 344,657.
That comprised 268,727 confirmed cases and 75,930 probable ones.
Pulaski County had the most new cases, 65, followed by Benton County, which had 27, and Saline County, which had 19.
Among prison and jail inmates, the state’s count of cases rose by one.
Department of Corrections spokeswoman Cindy Murphy said the state’s prisons didn’t have any new cases Wednesday.
The state death toll fell by two, to 4,657, among confirmed cases and remained at 1,210 among probable cases.
Among nursing home and assisted living facility residents, the state’s count of virus deaths fell by one for the second day in a row, to 2,091, apparently reflecting deaths that had been reclassified.