The number of active COVID-19 cases in Ashley County ticked slightly upward over the last week, standing Tuesday at 125 active cases compared to 122 a week prior.

The number of deaths in the county increased by one, however, now totaling 16. Sunday saw the state set a record for COVID deaths in a single day, 53.

“Yesterday recorded our highest total number of deaths since the COVID-19 pandemic began,” Gov Asa Hutchinson said Monday. 

“This high number of our friends and neighbors losing their lives is a tough reminder of our responsibility to follow the public health guidelines each day.”

Tuesday, the state death total was 2,073.

The governor’s Monday comments echoed what he’d said when reporting Friday’s totals.

“We are at a critical point in combating this virus as we continue to see record numbers of new cases each day,” he said Friday. “This battle will not be won by the actions of a few; it will take each Arkansan doing our part to win this fight.”

Ashley County has had a total of 975 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed since the pandemic began, meaning the currently active cases make up approximately 13 percent of all cases in the county since March. 

Statewide, officials reported 18,451 active cases Tuesday, meaning that just shy of 8 percent of  Arkansas’ total cases were considered active. 

While the county’s number of infections has remained low relative to other parts of the state, this week’s numbers reflect a plateau following a significant surge of cases over the month of November. The first jump came a week following the Halloween holidays, and state officials have said the two weeks following Thanksgiving — that is, the first two weeks of December — will show if a similar spike will follow the national holiday across the state

Statewide, 1,053 current hospital patients had been diagnosed with COVID-19, while 382 were in the intensive care unit and 182 were on ventilators.

The Arkansas Department of Health does not publicly break down the information by hospital, but in the southeastern hospital association that includes Ashley County, ADH reports show 52 patients admitted into hospitals are COVID-19 positive, 15 of those are in the intensive care unit and six are on ventilators.

Health officials are also encouraging members of the public to get flu shots to reduce the number of admissions into the hospital for influenza-related complications when the system is already strained by COVID-19.

ADH reports show that early flu-season activity has been “minimal,” with 392 positive influenza cases reported in the ADH database between Sept. 27 and Dec. 1, though the report states that readers should, “Please note that reported cases reflect only a portion of the actual numbers of flu cases in the state.” Four people are reported to have died of flu between the September and December dates.

While flu activity is still low, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the peak for the season is usually February, meaning that it could still cause significant health disruptions in the coming months.

Annually, between 25 and 50 million Americans are infected with the seasonal flu and 23,600 die from its respiratory and other complications. The CDC estimates that in the 2019-2020 flu season, between 39 and 56 million people were infected with flu illnesses and between 24,000 and 62,000 people died of them. 

Since the first confirmed COVID-19 case was diagnosed in January, approximately 15 million people have been diagnosed with the virus in the United states and more than 284,000 have died from it. 

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