As active cases of COVID-19 continue to drop in Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has instituted looser quarantine requirements for school exposures.
State officials changed the quarantine protocol for K-12 schools in response to declining case numbers and superintendents who have requested changes, Hutchinson said in his weekly media briefing. The definition of close contact with an infected person in a school setting, which would necessitate that the exposed person quarantine for 14 days, has changed from six feet or fewer for 15 minutes to three feet or fewer for 15 minutes. A pilot “test-to-stay” protocol allowing an exposed student to avoid quarantine with a negative test result will also expand to extracurricular activities.
“That's a significant change that will help our schools minimize the quarantining and balance that with the needs of the public health with the students,” Hutchinson said.
Statewide, total active cases of COVID-19 (confirmed and probable) fell to 5,853 Tuesday, a decrease of 99 in a day and 953 in a week, according to Arkansas Department of Health data. Total cumulative cases increased by 661 Tuesday, for a total of 507,759. That number rose by 3,937 in a week.
The ADH reported 19 new deaths from COVID-19 Tuesday. The additional deaths bring the toll in Arkansas to 8,221, up 74 in a week.
Hospitalizations in Arkansas rose by one on Tuesday to 461, but dropped by 76 in a week, according to the ADH. Statewide, 129 patients were on ventilators Tuesday, a decrease of two from Monday and 35 from Oct. 12.
State health officials had administered 3,035,069 vaccine doses to Arkansans by Tuesday, with 283,967 people partially immunized and over 1.37 million people fully immunized, according to the ADH. The number of fully vaccinated Arkansans increased by 3,046 and more than 7,000 new doses were administered between Monday and Tuesday.
Washington County officials reported 393 total active cases and 44,240 total cumulative cases Tuesday, according to the ADH. Benton County officials reported 470 total active cases and 41,703 total cumulative cases.
Total active cases rose in Washington County by 11 in a day and 101 in a week, according to the ADH. In Benton County, active cases rose by six in a day but fell by 65 in a week. Total cumulative cases in the two counties increased by 298 and 331, respectively, in a week.
Active COVID-19 cases on the UA campus fell to 14, a decrease of six between the week of Oct. 4 and the week of Oct. 11. Of current active cases, 12 are students, one is a staff member and one is in the category designated “other,” which includes vendors, contractors and other non-university employees.
During the week of Oct. 11-17, seven of 402 on-campus tests were positive, for a positivity rate of 1.7%. There were 13 total new cases during the week, six of which were self-reported.