COVID COVERAGE

While the State of Arkansas as a whole experienced a significant spike in active COVID-19 infections in the last week, Ashley County saw its number of active cases more than halve.

As of Tuesday evening, Ashley County has seven active cases of COVID-19, down from 19 cases the week before. Since the pandemic began, Ashley County has seen a total of 393 people confirmed infected with COVID-19. Of those, 379 are now considered recovered.

Seven Ashley County residents have died from complications arising from the viral infection.

A total of 4,169 Ashley County patients have tested negative for COVID. Combined with the number of positive tests, approximately 23 percent of Ashley County’s population has received a COVID test at some point since the novel coronavirus was detected in Arkansas in early March.

Statewide the picture hasn’t been as rosy in the last week. On Friday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that the state had a single day spike of 1,094 newly recorded cases. None of the days since then have seen as dramatic a shift, and Sunday, Monday and Tuesday all saw fewer positive cases reported from the day before.

“Sometimes we will have the peak for a couple of days and then it will go down,” Hutchinson said. 

“For that reason we are not necessarily anticipating that it is going to stay (declining) that way all week, but it also indicates that when we have a high point it won’t stay a high point.”

Hutchinson said since Friday’s spike the rate of testing in the state has remained high but the numbers of confirmed cases continued to decline.

State Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said the growth in positive cases over the week was “really significant” in the 16 to 24 age group.

“That is two or three times higher than any other age group,” he said. 

“We are seeing a reflection of those cases in colleges and universities.”

Romero said it is very important for college students to adhere to masking mandates, to wash their hands regularly and to maintain social distancing whether they live at home or on campus.

“Those are basically congregate settings you are living in, so you can spread it very easily,” he said, speaking of on-campus residents.

The other age group that saw a notable increase in cases was those 64 and older. Romero warned those who are younger to be careful because they can spread COVID to the older population without realizing it.

Hutchinson said based on what he observed around the state on Labor Day, more people were adhering to the state’s masking recommendation, and that led him to hope that the state will not see a spike in COVID cases in coming weeks.

“I saw Arkansans making a real effort to not make Labor Day weekend like Memorial Day,” he said, alluding to a previous spike in COVID infections. “We will get a grade on that in a couple of weeks.

“Any time you have increased activity and that increased activity is without social distancing and masks, you are going to have an increase in cases.”

Nationwide, the U.S. has seen 6.33 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Approximately 189,000 Americans have died of the illness.

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