Arkansas COVID-19 cases increase by 1,111 as state’s first Omicron case detected

The number of COVID-19 cases reported in Arkansas increased by 1,111 on Friday as Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that the first case of the Omicron variant has been detected in the state.

"This was expected, and we expect more cases of the variant to be confirmed in the near future," Hutchinson on Friday posted to Twitter. "This is not a surprise, but it is a compelling reason to get a booster shot now."

Officials announced 17 new deaths, bringing the total number of people in Arkansas who have died as a result of the pandemic to 8,930.

Hospitalizations were up by nine statewide, bringing the total number of patients currently hospitalized to 538.

There are now 90 patients in Arkansas on ventilators, down two from the day previous.

Health officials said there are 7,721 cases of COVID-19 considered active in the state, which includes those that have tested positive by both PCR and antigen testing methods. In Northwest Arkansas, there are 445 active cases in Washington County, and 599 active cases in Benton County, according to the state COVID-19 dashboard.

The state announced 5,407 PCR tests have been conducted in the last 24 hours, along with 2,192 antigen tests.

The new cases bring the total cumulative count in Arkansas to 542,426 since the pandemic began.

Fayetteville Public Schools on Thursday showed four new positive cases, for a total of 19 positive cases currently active in the district. There are 88 students currently in quarantine, and 43 of those are quarantining due to probable close contact at school. The district announced no new positive case among staff, for a total of three active positive staff cases. Five staff members are currently in quarantine or isolation, according to the district's dashboard.

Arkansas is averaging 707 new cases per day, or 23 per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks. According to the New York Times COVID-19 tracker, cases in the state are up by 8% over the last 14 days.

The state announced that 7,964 additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, bringing the total number of doses given by the state to 3,596,972. The state lists 339,637 as partially immunized, and 1,485,200 individuals as fully immunized.

All Arkansans ages 5 and older are currently eligible for a vaccine. Those who need assistance locating a vaccine can call 1-800-985-6030.

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