Amid an ongoing spike in positive COVID-19 cases, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences researchers have predicted active cases in Arkansas could peak at over 170,000 in early to mid-October.
A data model released by the UAMS College of Public Health predicts the COVID-19 death toll could climb to dozens per day over several days in October and over 3,000 people could be hospitalized if Arkansans do not adhere to strict social distancing guidelines.
The new data comes as COVID-19 cases and testing are both on the rise in Arkansas, and after the second phase of statewide reopening began Monday. Businesses are now permitted to admit up to two-thirds of their normal capacity, as long as they follow social distancing and masking requirements.
In an effort to prevent further virus spread as businesses get more crowded, the Fayetteville City Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to require face masks to be worn in all indoor public spaces. The legislation includes a $100,000 allocation for a public safety campaign, which will include buying masks for business owners to distribute to customers.
The Arkansas Department of Health reported 13,606 cumulative COVID-19 cases in Arkansas Wednesday, up 415 from the day before. Active cases rose to 4,413, up by 75 on Tuesday. In one week, active cases increased by 1,327, jumping 43%.
As of Wednesday, there were 217 patients hospitalized, up by three in one day and 16 in one week. Fifty-three were on ventilators, up by five in a day and two in seven days, according to the ADH. Ventilator use briefly dropped before rising again last week. There were 197 deaths, up by nine from Tuesday and by 32 from June 10. In total, 8,996 people were recovered, up 331 in a day and 1,880 in a week.
Of active cases, 147 were nursing home residents and 676 were in state correctional facilities, ADH Director Nate Smith said at Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s daily press conference Wednesday. At the conference, Hutchinson announced that long-term care facilities such as nursing homes will be permitted to admit visitors, with ADH approval, starting July 1.
As a virulent outbreak in NWA that has especially impacted the Springdale Hispanic community surges on, Washington and Benton Counties continue to report the most new cases per day.
Washington County saw 103 new cases between Tuesday and Wednesday, making its total cumulative cases 2,080 and its active cases 1,100. Benton County saw 98 new cases, for a total of 1,612 cumulative cases and 618 active cases. Of active cases in the state, 38.9% are in Northwest Arkansas.
Since June 10, cumulative cases increased by 875 in Washington County, and by 475 In Benton County. In those seven days, 2,583 new tests were performed in Washington County, with a 33.8% average positivity rate. In Benton County, 6,802 tests were performed, with an average positivity rate of 7%.
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.
Amid rising case numbers and a shortage of contact tracers at the ADH, Hutchinson announced Friday that he had activated a team of 20 National Guard members to assist. They began active duty work Wednesday, which will continue until July 1.