EDITOR'S NOTE: As a service to our readers, The Sentinel-Record publishes updates released each weekday by the city of Hot Springs and the state of Arkansas.
The following stats were shared Monday at Gov. Asa Hutchinson's daily COVID-19 news conference in Little Rock and posted on the Arkansas Department of Health website:
• 44,597 cumulative cases, up 787 from Sunday.
• 527,400 test reports, up 7,659 from Sunday.
• 8.6% infection rate, up from 8.4% Sunday.
• 6,882 active cases, up 112 from Sunday.
• 37,240 recoveries, up 664 from Sunday.
• 513 hospitalizations, down two from Sunday.
• 108 cases on a ventilator, up two from Sunday.
• 475 deaths, up 11 from Sunday.
• 875 cumulative cases in Garland County, up 32 from Sunday.
• 13,903 test reports for Garland County, up 277 from Sunday.
• 6.3% infection rate, up from 6.2% Sunday.
• 227 active cases in Garland County, up five from Sunday.
• 640 recoveries in Garland County, up 26 from Sunday.
• Eight deaths in Garland County, up one from Sunday.
The 32 new cases reported Monday in Garland County lowered its rolling seven-day average of new cases for a third day in a row. Monday's 25.71 average was 14% lower than Friday's peak of 30. The six new cases reported Sunday were the fewest since the three reported July 9.
Active cases rose from 222 to 227, a 7% decrease from Friday's peak of 244. Active cases rose 234% in July, and the cumulative infection rate rose from 3.4% at the start of the month to 6.1% at the end of the month.
The 787 new statewide cases reported Monday lowered the state's rolling seven-day average of new cases for a fifth-straight day. Monday's 735.71 average was 10% lower than Wednesday's peak of 817.43 and the lowest moving average since the 735
average July 23.
Hutchinson said the state has received 100 of the 200 antigen testing machines it ordered. The state plans to send the rapid-result, point-of-care platforms to the Health Department's county health units, where teachers and students can access them.
"If there's a teacher, if there's a staff person, if there's a student who needs to have a quick test then they can go to their local health unit to get a quick turnaround on this equipment we'll be deploying over the next three weeks," he said. "I think that will be something that will be useful. That's one of the priorities educational staff has to what we need to do to be ready for school."
Hutchinson said antigen testing at local health units will be free. The testing kits used to collect specimens have yet to arrive, he said, but should be available later this month.
The Health Department said antigen tests have about 95% of the accuracy of the polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test that detects the virus' genetic material. A positive result from an antigen test, which detects proteins from the virus, has to be confirmed by a PCR test before the Health Department will confirm its positivity.
Hutchinson said the northeast public health region is the only area of the state with a rising curve of new infections. New cases in the central region, which includes Garland County, have been trending down.
Since the statewide mask directive went into effect July 20, the rolling seven day average of new cases has increased more than 3% and the cumulative infection rate has grown 10%.
"All the scientists say it takes two weeks for that to start having an impact, but the impact all depends upon the level of compliance," Hutchinson said. "Anecdotally, it looks like it's improved the mask usage by the fact there's been a mask mandate in place. It's certainly not 100%, but it's increased it. If there's compliance, you'll start seeing a difference."