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The Arkansas Department of Health reported a record 268 patients on ventilators in the state Monday, breaking Sunday’s record of 237.

The record follows another high set Saturday when the state reached 27,822 active cases of COVID-19 on Saturday.

The record numbers come as the state continues phase 1-A of vaccination distribution. Since mid-December, 80,796 of the 203,375 vaccines received in the state have been distributed to health care workers, long-term care residents and staff, first responders and other high priority groups.

With the surge in statewide cases comes a rise in case numbers at the UofA, as students return to Fayetteville following winter break.

An analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Jan. 8 found links to fraternity and sorority activities early in the fall semester and a surge in cases on the UA campus. The study never explicitly names the UofA, but it is the only university in the state that reported those case numbers at that time in the semester.

Between Aug. 22 and Sept. 5, the UofA reported 965 COVID-19 cases — 673 among women, 234 among men and 58 cases wherein the sex was not known to researchers, according to the report.

Forty-eight of those who tested positive received in-class instruction, 292 participated in fraternity or sorority activities and 149 lived in a fraternity or sorority house, according to the report.

The dates align with Greek life recruitment on campus. Panhellenic rush week was held Aug. 17-22 and Interfraternity Council recruitment was held Aug. 27-31.

The ADH reported 25,534 total active cases (confirmed and probable) on Monday, down 1,958 from the day before and up 2,477 from Jan 4. There were 256,3441 total cases in the state by Monday, up 1,268 from the day before and 21,563 in seven days.

The ADH reported 1,268 new cases Monday. There were 226,700 confirmed and probable cases considered inactive, an increase of 18,802 from Jan. 4.

Statewide hospitalizations increased by 31 Monday to 1,371, down three from the previous week. The ADH reported 38 new deaths from confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 Monday. The additional deaths bring the death toll in Arkansas to 2,713, up 281 in a week.

Cases on the UA campus have remained significantly lower since the spike in late August and early September, with the weekly active case average remaining under 200 since the week of Sept. 14-20. The highest weekly average since then was the week of Nov. 9-15 with a weekly average of 108.

There were 109 active cases on the UA campus on Monday, up 25 from Friday, according to the UA COVID-19 Dashboard.

Of those, 81 were students, one was a graduate assistant, six were faculty, 19 were staff members and two were classified as other. The dashboard lists 52 new positive cases and 27 new recoveries in the reporting period of Friday-Sunday. Of the new cases, 18 were identified through on-campus testing, and 27 were self-reported.

The data summary sheet linked to the dashboard reported 45 new cases while the dashboard itself lists 52 new cases. It is unclear which figure is accurate.

Of the 25,327 tests performed on campus, 1,181 have been positive, for a cumulative positivity rate of 4.7%, an increase from the .6% reported Dec. 28-Jan 3.

Washington and Benton County remain viral hotspots in the state as campus case numbers begin to fluctuate and students return to school.

Washington County reported 2,319 total active cases (confirmed and probable), and 24,355 total cumulative cases Monday. Benton County reported 2,367 total active cases and 24,169 total cumulative cases.

Total active cases decreased by 144 in a day but increased by 236 in a week in Washington County. In Benton County, active cases fell by 154 in a day but rose by 111 in a week. Total cumulative cases in the two counties increased by 1,272 and 2,285, respectively, in a week.

Abbi Ross is the Editor in Chief of the Arkansas Traveler, where she previously worked as senior staff reporter.

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