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story.lead_photo.caption This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). (CDC via AP, file photo)

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 Thursday at Gov. Asa Hutchinson's daily COVID-19 news conference in Little Rock and posted on the Arkansas Department of Health's website:

• 41,559 cumulative infections, up 791 from Wednesday.

• 502,717 test reports, up 7,112 from Wednesday.

• 8.3% infection rate, no change from Wednesday.

• 6,580 active cases, down 16 from Wednesday.

• 34,737 recoveries, up 799 from Wednesday.

• 504 hospitalizations, down four from Wednesday.

• 101 cases on a ventilator, down seven from Wednesday.

• 1,194 cumulative nursing home residents infected, no change from Wednesday.

• 786 cumulative infections in Garland County, up 51 from Wednesday.

• 13,016 test reports for Garland County, up 366 from Wednesday.

• 6% rate of infection, up from 5.8% Wednesday.

• 238 active cases in Garland County, up 19 from Wednesday.

• 541 recoveries in Garland County, up 32 from Wednesday.

• Seven deaths in Garland County, no change from Wednesday.

The plateau Garland County's curve of new infections was on earlier this week hit a bump Thursday, with the Health Department reporting a single-day record of 51 new cases in the county.

The county's rolling seven-day average of new cases had fallen three of the four previous days, but Thursday's record number pushed it to a new peak of 29.28. Thursday's average was 2.5% higher than the previous peak of 28.57 Saturday.

The county's cumulative infection rate rose for a 15th time in 16 days, reaching its highest rate since April.

The county's active cases had fallen each of the previous two days but hit a new peak of 238 Thursday, a 2.1% increase from the previous peak of 233 Monday. Active cases have risen 272% in three weeks. The state's active cases have risen 14.4% over that time.

The 791 new cases reported statewide Thursday lowered the state's rolling seven-day average to 785.72, a 3.9% drop from Wednesday's peak of 817.43. The average fell as a result of the 1,013 cases, the second most reported in a single day, reported July 24 falling outside the calculation.

"We've been generally just right there at that same mark day after day, which is good it's not going up," Hutchinson said. "It's flattening, but of course we'd like to see it go the opposite way."

Hutchinson said doctors and hospitals are no longer required to test surgical patients prior to surgery. He said fewer than 1% of the pre-surgical tests have been positive since the directive took effect in May.

"It was clogging up the system and taking a lot of testing capacity," he said. "We wanted to leave that to the discretion of the hospital or clinic."

Eleven percent of the 5,084 antigen tests reported to the Health Department since June 11 had a positive result. Those results are presumed positive until they're confirmed by a genetic-based polymerase chain reaction test. Hutchinson said positive results from the protein-based antigen test are entered into the Health Department's reporting system if they are confirmed by a PCR test, which he said is more accurate.

He said the 200 point-of-care antigen testing machines the Health Department's ordered could be used by schools when classes resume next month. The tests can be processed on site and return a result in minutes.

"It's 95% accurate," he said. "It's not as high as a PCR test, but it's very convenient to have a quick turnaround. This will be helpful as we go into school. We want to give this antigen test equipment so it's more available for a quick turnaround. I think this will be useful for us."

The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement website began listing active cases by city Thursday. ACHI began listing cumulative cases by city earlier this month. According to the website, Hot Springs had 136 active cases as of Monday and Hot Springs National Park had 66. The county's other incorporated areas, Fountain Lake, Lonsdale and Mountain Pine, weren't listed.

"This is in virtually every community in the state," Dr. Joe Thompson, ACHI president and CEO, said. "This is a real issue, a broad issue. I would ask every leader, faith-based, community-based and family based, to take it seriously."

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