235 active cases in Garland County; Governor gives weekly COVID update

The following statistics and information for Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, were shared at a press conference with the governor and/or were posted on the Arkansas Department of Health’s (ADH) website:

  • 16,720 cumulative cases in Garland County, up 46 from Wednesday.
  • 235 active cases in Garland County, up 25 from Wednesday.
  • 16,062 recoveries in Garland County, up 21 from Wednesday.
  • 421 deaths in Garland County, no change from Wednesday.

Governor Asa Hutchinson shared that today’s new COVID-19 case count was a record high for the state at 4,978. Yet, with the rapid home tests, the true number of new cases is likely even higher. The number of active cases increased by 4,031 to 18,644. There was no change to the hospitalizations, with the number of those hospitalized remaining at 585. 

“We know, without a doubt, that our cases are going to continue to increase. We haven’t reached the peak yet. What we have to watch is the hospital availability, and whether omicron is leading to hospitalizations. That’s the number we’re looking at, and we’re still way below where we were at the peak. That doesn’t mean that they’re not stressed. They are stressed in the hospitals. But it does mean that we are far below where we were,” he said. 

There were 18 additional COVID-related deaths reported in the past 24 hours. 

It was one of the highest testing days with 10,500 PCR and 3,527 antigen test results. The positivity rate’s seven-day rolling average is at the highest it has been since the pandemic began at 19.7%.

Due to the strained supply of at-home rapid tests, the state is ordering 1.5 million rapid tests to be distributed to local health units and county public libraries for citizens to be able to access at no cost. 

In the past 24 hours, there have been 9,625 vaccine doses administered. Hutchinson said that number seems to be low with respect of the threat of the omicron variant. 

Dr. Jose Romero shared a slide illustrating that emergency room visits are increasing for COVID-like illnesses among the 0-4 and 5-17 age groups. “I’m using this to show that this disease does affect children. It requires that these parents take these children to the emergency room to be evaluated, and we are starting to see increases in hospitalizations in childhood cases,” he said.  

With the New Year’s festivities approaching, the governor encouraged everyone to be mindful of the spike in cases and the highly contagious omicron variant. He said to be around vaccinated people, and if they are not vaccinated to wear a mask and social distance. Schools will also be starting next week, and he said, “We are committed in Arkansas to in-classroom instruction. No, we are not stopping it. We are not changing course.” He said each school district should consider mask mandates based on the number of cases in the area and the vaccination rates. 

The state has adopted the new CDC guidelines making isolation five days if there are no symptoms, or the symptoms have resolved after five days. If a fever remains, you should continue to stay home until 24 hours after the fever has ended. The quarantine guidelines for those who have been exposed to someone with the virus are:

  • Five days of quarantine and an additional five days of wearing a mask around other for those who have completed the primary series of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine more than six months ago and are not boosted; those who completed the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago, and are not boosted; and those who are unvaccinated.
  • Wear a mask around others for 10 days, and test on day five, if possible, for those who have been boosted or have completed their primary series of Pfizer or Moderna within the past six months or have completed the Johnson & Johnson within the last two months.