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Active COVID-19 cases in Arkansas continued on a nearly two-month-long downward trend Monday, days after Gov. Asa Hutchinson eased virus-related directives and a week after the U.S. surpassed 500,000 total deaths from COVID-19.

In a press conference Friday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson celebrated the recent decline in active cases and increasing rates of vaccinations in Arkansas, and he lifted nearly all the ADH’s virus-related directives. They are now classified as nonbinding recommendations. Hutchinson extended the public health emergency and statewide mask mandate through March 31.

"The reasons for this, as I've stated: we've made progress in the pandemic, businesses have adjusted and made changes to their business model in the interest of public health, and we've seen a steady decline in cases," Hutchinson said.

Since Feb. 22, state health officials administered 117,360 new vaccine doses for a cumulative total of 636,600. Approximately 64.3% of the 989,580 vaccine doses received by Arkansas health officials had been distributed by Monday, according to the ADH.

On Feb. 23, Hutchinson expanded vaccine eligibility in Phase 1-B to those 65 and older.

Confirmed and probable active COVID-19 cases fell to 4,242 Monday, down 157 in a day and 657 in a week, according to the ADH. State health officials reported 322,509 cumulative confirmed and probable cases Monday, down 94 in a day but up 6,750 from Feb. 22.

On Sunday, following a “data cleanup,” Arkansas health officials added 2,832 confirmed and probable cases detected prior to Feb. 14 to the state’s cumulative total. They also removed and reclassified an unspecified number of deaths.

Deaths from confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 totaled 2,250 Monday, up 7 in a day but down 113 in a week, according to the ADH. Across Arkansas, 441 people were hospitalized Monday, down 14 in a day and 147 in a week. Ventilator use decreased to 84 patients, down one from Sunday and 25 from Feb. 22.

The ADH had labeled 313,002 total confirmed and probable cases inactive Monday, up 244 in a day and 7,532 in one week.

Health officials in Washington County reported 321 confirmed and probable active cases and a cumulative total of 29,397 Monday, according to the ADH. Benton County recorded 420 active cases and a cumulative total of 27,257.

Benton and Washington Counties ranked third- and fifth-highest in new cases Monday, adding nine and seven cases from Sunday, respectively.

Health officials reported two new positive cases on the UA campus Monday, for a total of 13 active cases, according to the UA COVID-19 dashboard. Of the 13 cases, 12 are students and one is a staff member.

From Friday to Sunday, one of 248 on-campus tests yielded positive results, according to the dashboard. The additional positive case was self-reported. Active on-campus cases have not surpassed 50 since Feb. 5.

Since Aug. 10, 2020, 1,354 of the 32,878 tests conducted on campus yielded positive results, for a cumulative positivity rate of 4.1%. The positivity rate decreased by roughly 0.1 percentage point in one week, according to the dashboard.

The weekly positivity rate on campus fell to 0.7% Monday, decreasing by 0.4 percentage points in one week and continuing on a downward trend that began in early January.

One-hundred percent of the university’s quarantine and isolation space was available Monday.

Hanna Ellington is an assistant editor for the Arkansas Traveler.

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