Case update: Arkansas COVID-19 cases up 686 Wednesday, largest single-day increase since February

The Arkansas Department of Health announced that COVID-19 cases in Arkansas increased by 686 on Wednesday. It is the largest single-day increase in new cases recorded in the state since February.

Hospitalizations increased by 19, bringing the total number of Arkansans hospitalized to 325. There are 75 patients on ventilators, up six from the day prior.

The state also announced four new deaths, bringing the total number of deaths in the state as a result of the pandemic to 5,909.

There are currently 3,763 cases of COVID-19 considered active in the state, which includes those that have tested positive by both PCR and antigen testing methods. This number is again on the rise after dropping to below 1,600 on June 7. The ADH dashboard currently lists 186 active cases in Washington County and 210 in Benton County.

There were 3,209 PCR tests and 796 antigen tests announced Wednesday.

The new cases bring the total cumulative count in Arkansas to 349,385 since the pandemic began.

The state announced that 10,356 additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, bringing the total number of doses given by the state to 2,134,328. The state lists 221,986 as partially immunized, and 993,471 individuals as fully immunized.

Arkansas continues to lag behind the rest of the country in vaccinations. According to the NY Times, Arkansas is ranked 48th among 50 states with just 34% of the population fully vaccinated.

The state is also third worst among states in new cases per-capita over the last 14 days according to the NY Times. Cases in the state are up 63% over the last 14 days, and only Nevada has fared worse among states in that category over that time period. The state is averaging 402 cases per day, or 13 per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks, which is also third worst among states nationally.

By comparison, Vermont - which has at least partially vaccinated 75% of its population - is only reporting about 4 new cases per day, or less than 1 person for every 100,000 residents. Case counts for that state continue to decline, and have fallen 35% over the last 14 days according to the New York Times.

Fayetteville health officer Marti Sharkey expressed concern over the recent rise in cases in Arkansas on her Facebook page this week, and pointed to the increase in the more contageous Delta Variant, as well as lack of vaccination in the state as the reasons for the increase.

"All specimens that have been sent for sequencing from the state of Arkansas since the second week of June are Delta," she said. "It is taking us 2-3 weeks to get sequencing results back. Presumably, it is already our dominant strain and spreading widely."

Sharkey pointed to recent statistics indicating that over 90% of the recent cases are among unvaccinated individuals. Over 98% of the recent hospitalizations in the state are among unvaccinated individuals, Sharkey said, and over 99% recent deaths are unvaccinated.

"If you are unvaccinated, you are at risk," Sharkey said. "Vaccines solve all of this."

Sharkey echoed statements UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson made last week that local hospitals are seeing more young patients hospitalized with the virus recently.

"We are seeing young, unvaccinated, otherwise healthy persons in their 20s, 30s, and 40s so sick with this variant so near death that a ventilator would not save their life," Sharkey said. "They are having to go on to ECMO - otherwise known as heart and lung bypass. That means we are having to not only breath for them but also pump their blood."

All Arkansans ages 12 and older are currently eligible for a vaccine.

Those who need assistance locating a vaccine can call 1-800-985-6030.

The top counties for new cases on Wednesday were Pulaski (128), Saline (61) and Washington (41).