As active cases of COVID-19 across Arkansas continue on a downward trajectory, deaths from the virus continue to rise, and the Northwest Arkansas region is facing a resurgence in infections.
Active cases in the state have been consistently falling since Aug. 10, when an overall upward trend reversed. However, active cases in Benton and Washington Counties rose Friday, three days before the start of the UA fall semester, after being on a steady decline since July 5. Meanwhile, the Arkansas Department of Health announced a total of 46 new deaths Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The ADH reported 56,574 cumulative COVID-19 cases in Arkansas on Sunday, an increase of 375 in a day and nearly 4,000 in a week. Active cases fell to 5,636 from 5,761 on Saturday. Over the course of a week, active cases fell by 705, nearly 10.9%.
As of Sunday, there were 500 patients hospitalized, up by 8 in a day and 22 in a week.
Statewide, 110 patients were on ventilators Sunday, up by two in a day but down by 10 in seven days, according to the ADH. In total, 50,251 cases were considered inactive, an increase of 487 from Saturday and nearly 4,700 from Aug. 16.
Deaths rose by 13 in a day and by 88 in a week, for a total of 687 on Sunday. On Friday, the ADH reported 22 new deaths, Arkansas’s largest single-day increase. Eleven additional deaths were reported Saturday, for a weekend total of 46.
For the first time since the pandemic began, UA officials reported on-campus case numbers via a new COVID-19 dashboard Thursday. By that day, two of the 272 people who had been tested on campus tested positive, while two others self-reported positive results to UA Emergency Management and the ADH reported a further case, according to the dashboard. The five COVID-positive patients may have been on any of the UA campuses in Fayetteville any time since Aug. 10.
Also on Friday, Northwest Arkansas officials reported a spike in active cases, an unusual occurrence since NWA case numbers took a downward turn starting July 5. Active cases jumped from 83 to 99 in Benton County on Friday, and rose from 181 to 217 in Washington County. The resurgence brought both counties into the top 20 Arkansas counties in terms of active cases.
Washington County reported 13 new cases between Saturday and Sunday, bringing its total cumulative cases to 6,610 and its active cases to 205. Benton County reported 26 new cases, for a total of 5,092 cumulative cases and 206 active cases. Of active cases in the state, 7.3% are in Northwest Arkansas.
Since Aug. 16, cumulative cases increased by 168 in Washington County, and by 175 in Benton County. During that week, 3432 new tests were reported in Washington County, with a 4.9% average positivity rate. In Benton County, 2,901 tests were reported, with an average positivity rate of over 6%.
The World Health Organization recommends that localities see a positive 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.
Fall classes at the UofA begin Monday, with a mix of face-to-face, remote and hybrid offerings. Monday is also the earliest allowed start date for Arkansas public schools. Schools may offer both fully remote and in-person options, but in-person programs must include in-school instruction for all participating students five days per week. No hybrid programs will be allowed, by direction of Education Secretary Johnny Key.