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As new COVID-19 cases rise sharply across the northwestern region and many other parts of Arkansas, the natural state has been ranked as the third-worst virus hotspot in the a project of Brown and Harvard Universities.

The COVID-19 Risk Level Dashboard ranks U.S. states and counties according to their seven-day rolling average of daily new cases per 100,000 people. Each state or county receives a risk level rating, which is represented on the map by green, yellow, orange or red shading. The dashboard is part of the “Pandemics Explained” data project by the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Brown School of Public Health.

As of Monday evening, Arkansas was rated as one of six red states—those with the highest level of virus risk. Its rolling average of daily new confirmed cases was 33.5 per 100,000 people, the third highest rate in the country. According to the project’s designers, red-level states are at the “tipping point,” with “stay-at-home orders necessary” to control the virus. Arkansas is one of seven states whose governor has not issued a stay-at-home order at any point during the ongoing pandemic.

Northwest Arkansas continues to be one of the top viral hotspots in Arkansas, with Washington County rated as red and Benton County rated as orange on the COVID-19 Risk Level Dashboard on Monday evening. The rolling averages of daily new cases for the two counties were 58.5 and 21.5 per 100,000 people, respectively.

Washington County reported 581 total active cases, 96 probable active cases, and 9,006 cumulative cases Monday, and Benton County reported 353 active cases, 31 probable active cases, and 6,268 cumulative cases. Active cases decreased by 81 in Washington County and increased by 84 in Benton County in a week. Cumulative cases increased by 945 and 462, respectively.

The Arkansas Department of health announced 596 new confirmed cases on Monday, for a total of 74,286 cumulative cases. That total rose by 4,837 in one week. Active cases rose to 6,299, an increase of 43 in a day and 580 in a week. The ADH reported a total of 2,078 probable cases Monday, with 407 of those active.

On Monday there were 447 patients hospitalized, up by 35 in a day and 69 in a week. Statewide, 97 patients were on ventilators Wednesday, an increase of 12 in a day and 22 in seven days, according to the ADH.

Total deaths rose by 15 in a day and by 62 in a week, for a total of 1,048 on Monday. An additional 149 deaths were probably caused by the virus, according to the ADH. In total, 66,934 cases were considered inactive by Monday, an increase of 537 from Sunday and 4,194 from Sept. 14.

At the UofA, total active cases fell and recoveries increased in Monday’s COVID-19 data update.

By Monday there were 127 active cases reported on campus, according to the UofA. Of those, 123 were students, one was faculty, and three were staff. Active cases fell from 284 on Friday.

Total on-campus cases increased by 31 between Friday and Sunday. The dashboard no longer includes information on how many of those cases were identified through on-campus testing, self-reporting and ADH reports. There were also 179 new recoveries and 470 new tests in the Friday-Sunday reporting period.

Of the 5,768 tests performed on campus, 655 have been positive, for a positivity rate of 11.8%. There are also 209 results pending. The World Health Organization recommends that localities see a positivity rate of 5% or less for at least 14 days before reopening, according to the WHO. Arkansas is currently in the second of three phases of economic reopening.

Sarah Komar is the news editor for The Arkansas Traveler, where she previously worked as a staff reporter in 2019 and early 2020.

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