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After the U.S. surpassed a million new COVID-19 cases per week in November, hospitalizations in Arkansas continued to break records Monday.

The Arkansas Department of Health reported 1,063 hospitalizations and 201 patients on ventilators, up 33 and 16 respectively from Sunday. The previous record for hospitalizations was 1,030, set Sunday, while for patients on ventilators it was 192, set Friday.

In November, hospitalizations and ventilations records shattered 19 and 14 times, respectively. On Nov. 1, there were 656 people hospitalized and 107 people used ventilators, according to the ADH, escalating by nearly 62% and 88% throughout the month.

Deaths from probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose by 32 Monday, for a total of 2,502. In one week, 115 Arkansans died, 89 were hospitalized and 46 were on ventilators, according to the ADH.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson addressed the state’s rapidly decreasing hospital capacity in a statement Monday.

“Today's increase in hospitalizations will continue to strain our healthcare system,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “Our frontline workers need our help as we head into the winter months of this pandemic.”

Hutchinson said he received briefings regarding vaccine distribution plans and healthcare system needs from U.S. Commissioner of Food and Drugs Stephen Hahn; Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.

“Based upon national trends and expert concerns on the holiday season, it does seem that we are in the lull before the storm,” Hutchinson said. “I applaud our health department team and all the health care workers who have been so diligent during this entire pandemic.”

Statewide cumulative cases increased to 157,359 Monday, up by 11,169 since Nov. 23. Statewide, there were 16,140 active cases, decreasing by 744 in a day with a net decrease of 587 in a week.

In total, 138,696 cases across Arkansas were considered inactive, increasing by 1,824 from Sunday and 11,637 from Nov. 23, according to the ADH.

Washington County officials reported 64 new cases Monday, the third-highest number of new cases in any Arkansas County. Benton County added 56, the fifth-highest increase.

Washington County reported 1,216 probable and confirmed active cases and 15,548 cumulative cases Monday. In total, 177 people have died in the county, according to the ADH.

Neighboring Benton County reported 1,017 active cases and 12,091 cumulative cases Monday, and total deaths reached 160.

UA officials reported 14 new cases Monday, for a total of 35 active cases on campus, according to the UA COVID-19 dashboard. Of current active cases, 28 were students, two were graduate assistants, four were staff and one was a faculty member. The new cases include pending test results and reports made from Nov. 25 to Nov. 29.

Of the 18,606 tests administered on campus since Aug. 10, 960 have yielded positive results, for a positivity rate of 5.2%. The weekly positivity rate fell to 1.9% for Nov. 23-29, trending downward from a peak of 4.8% the week of Nov. 9-14.

Hanna Ellington is an assistant editor for the Arkansas Traveler.

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