New COVID graphic

Contact tracing for those with COVID-19 infections in Arkansas school districts has halted as infrastructure cannot keep up with high transmission rates and case volume.

Although active cases declined over the past week, record-high viral transmission spurred by the omicron variant has left district officials across the state unable to track who might have been exposed to infected individuals, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in his weekly media briefing.

Hutchinson read from a statement prepared by Arkansas Department of Education officials and directed at school districts.

“Contact tracing and quarantines for students who are determined to be probable close contacts remain best practices as mitigation strategies, but there is no directive for districts to do so,” Hutchinson said.

Statewide, active COVID-19 cases fell by 5,914 from Monday to Tuesday and 32,180 in a week, according to Arkansas Department of Health data. Cumulative cases increased by 4,367 Tuesday, for a total of 781,396. That number rose by 31,572 in a week. 

The ADH reported 39 new deaths from COVID-19 Tuesday. The additional deaths bring the toll in Arkansas to 9,667, up 111 in a week.

Hospitalizations in Arkansas fell to 1,711 Tuesday, down by four in a day and 74 in a week, according to the ADH. Statewide, 242 patients were on ventilators Tuesday, a decrease of eight from Monday but an increase of nine from Jan. 25.

State health officials had administered more than 3.88 million vaccine doses to Arkansans by Tuesday, according to the ADH, with 372,095 people partially immunized and almost 1.55 million people fully immunized. Officials administered 3,988 new doses — including third and booster doses — between Monday and Tuesday, with 28,860 administered in a week.

The nearly 1.55 million fully vaccinated Arkansans represent over 54% of the state’s 5-and-up population. Almost 68% of Americans 5 and older have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Seventy-nine percent of Arkansas’ vaccine supply — over 4.9 million doses — had been administered by Tuesday.

Washington County officials reported 4,278 active COVID-19 cases Tuesday. Benton County officials reported 5,160 active cases, according to the ADH. The seven-day averages of active cases in the two counties decreased by 392 and 314, respectively, in a week.

There were 179 active COVID-19 cases recorded on the UA campus during the Jan. 24-30 reporting period, according to the Pat Walker Health Center COVID-19 Dashboard. Of active cases, 137 were students, nine were graduate assistants, 12 were faculty, 17 were staff, and four were not affiliated with the UofA.

PWHC officials recorded 366 new cases last week, 200 of which were self-reported, 101 of which were identified through on-campus testing, and 65 were identified at off-campus testing sites. An additional 338 tests came back negative, for a weekly positivity rate of 23%.

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