Total hospitals drop to almost 3 months
The number of covid-19 patients in Arkansas who were in hospitals, on ventilators or in intensive care all fell for a second day in a row on Tuesday, with the number of hospitalizations reaching its lowest level since July 14.
The state’s case count rose by 747, the second consecutive daily increase lower than a week earlier.
The death toll in Arkansas from the virus, as tracked by the Department of Health, increased by 23, to 7,775.
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“Active cases have continued to decline every day for more than three weeks,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a tweet, referring to the number of people infected but not yet cured.
“We are now at the lowest level since mid-July. Our hospitalizations have also seen a steady decline. Vaccines can prevent deaths,” the governor said, but “we are losing too many Arkansans.”
With recoveries and deaths exceeding new cases, the total number of active cases fell from 439 on Tuesday to 8,096, the smallest number since July 12.
It was the 24th day in a row that the numbers were declining.
Meanwhile, the executive director of the Washington Regional Medical System said on Tuesday that fewer than 20 of the 3,313 healthcare system workers were fired for failing to meet Friday’s deadline for receiving at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
The health care system, which includes the Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, is one of several providers in the state whose vaccine requirements went into effect last week as state lawmakers consider measures that would limit such mandates.
“We know vaccines are safe and represent the most effective means available to control and end the covid-19 pandemic,” Washington area CEO Larry Shackelford said in a statement.
“The effectiveness of employer mandates is confirmed in the United States as well as in Washington Regional. It is unfortunate that sound principles of public health, which have been advocated by many medical and scientific authorities, have been politicized.
The number of people hospitalized in the state fell by five, to 664.
The number of people on ventilators fell by four to 188.
Already at its lowest level since July 19, the number of covid-19 patients who were in intensive care fell by nine, to 302.
The number of unoccupied intensive care beds statewide, however, fell by 20, to 96, due to an increase in the number of non-covid patients.
People with covid-19 made up 27% of the condition’s patients in intensive care on Tuesday, up from 29% a day earlier.
With the exception of Sunday, when the number did not change, the number of covid-19 patients in Arkansas hospitals has been declining every day for more than two weeks.
“I think we are still moving in the right direction,” said Dr Jennifer Dillaha, Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health. “It’s nice to see the number of active cases continue to drop.”
While an upcoming federal rule will require the vaccination of workers in hospitals and other health care facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid, Washington Regional is among providers in Arkansas that have already adopted their own mandates.
Washington area spokeswoman Natalie Hardin said system workers should receive at least one dose of the vaccine by Friday.
Employees receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine were also required to schedule the second dose of the two-dose regimens if they had not already received it.
Shackelford said less than 6% of healthcare system workers had requested exemptions because of a disability or religious belief, and the majority of those requests were approved.
“All accommodations have been determined on an individualized basis taking into account the particular situation of each individual, the job description and the working environment,” he said.
In most cases, employees with exemptions must wear an N95 respirator and goggles on campus and undergo weekly testing, he said.
At the Mercy Health System, which has hospitals in Rogers, Fort Smith and Berryville, employees who failed to comply with a vaccine requirement were suspended without pay on Friday and will be fired 28 days after that if they fail to comply. are still not in compliance, said spokeswoman Mardi Taylor. noted.
“We are unable to provide the number of employees who have been suspended,” Taylor said in an email Tuesday.
“To date, over 97% of Mercy-wide colleagues have been vaccinated. Some who have been suspended have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine but not the second, and Mercy plans to reinstate them after their second dose.”
A deadline to be fully immunized also arrived last week for the 300 employees who make up the management team at Jonesboro-based St. Bernards Healthcare.
Spokesman Mitchell Nail said on Friday that 99% of them had met the requirement and anyone who did not comply would be fired.
“As for firing someone, we are not going to discuss staff details,” Nail said Tuesday.
St. Bernards employees who are not part of the management team have until November 1 to be fully immunized.
The health system includes St. Bernards Medical Center in Jonesboro, CrossRidge Community Hospital in Wynne, and St. Bernards Five Rivers Medical Center in Pocahontas.
Arkansas Children’s CEO Marcy Doderer announced in July that senior staff in his organization should be fully immunized by last Thursday.
An August 27 memo extended the requirement, with the same deadline, to all medical staff.
Vaccination requirements come into effect Friday at the Conway Regional Health System and Nov. 1 at CHI St. Vincent and NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital in Jonesboro.
FALL IN NEW CASES
The increase in cases on Tuesday was 53 less than the previous Tuesday.
As a result, the state’s average daily increase in the number of cases over a period of seven consecutive days, already at its lowest level since the week ending July 10, fell to 727.
In its daily coronavirus report, the Little Rock School District said eight students and two staff tested positive during the 24-hour period ending at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
73 other students and two employees from more than a dozen campuses have been quarantined after being near an infected person.
These students included 14 at Carver Magnet Elementary, 20 at Chicot Elementary and Chicot Early Childhood Center, 10 at Fulbright Elementary, nine at Terry Elementary, five at Washington Elementary, and eight at Western Hills Elementary.
According to rankings from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Arkansas recorded the 12th lowest number of new cases per capita among states and the District of Columbia in the seven-day period ending Monday, down from the 19th low of the week. ending Thursday.
As for new deaths, Arkansas’ rate rose from the 15th to the 16th highest, as its seven-day count per 100,000 residents fell from 4.7 Thursday to 4 Monday.
In Arkansas, Benton County recorded the most new cases on Tuesday, 53, followed by Pulaski County, which had 51, and Washington County, which had 44.
The state’s cumulative number of cases has risen to 499,004.
Dillaha said all of the deaths reported on Tuesday occurred within the past month.
She said 8.1% of the state’s coronavirus tests were positive in the seven-day period ending Monday, down from the 8.3% initially reported for the week ending Sunday and a peaked 16.3% over the summer for the week ending August 4.
Hutchinson said he is looking to keep the percentage below 10%.
The number of people who have previously been hospitalized with covid-19 in the state increased by 69, to 26,612.
The number of people who have ever been on a respirator increased by 20 to 2,766.
At 8,758, the increase in vaccine doses that providers reported giving, including the second and third doses of Pfizer and Moderna, was the first in eight days that was lower than a week earlier.
About 20% of the most recently reported doses were first injections. Over 47% were third booster doses.
The average number of doses administered each day over a rolling seven-day period decreased from approximately 96 to 8,170.
This was still up from the week-earlier average of 5,568 doses per day, but down from the summer high of 13,361 per day for the week ending August 27.
According to the CDC, the number of Arkansans who received at least one dose of the vaccine increased Tuesday by 748, to 1,690,762, representing about 56% of the state’s population.
The number of people fully immunized increased by 996 to 1,387,937, or about 46% of the population.
Among states and the District of Columbia, Arkansas continued to rank 37th for the percentage of its population that received at least one dose, and 42nd – ahead of Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia, North Dakota , Mississippi, Alabama, Idaho, Wyoming and West Virginia – in the percentage of people fully immunized.
Nationally, 65% of people had received at least one dose and 56% were fully immunized.
Information for this article was provided by Cynthia Howell of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.