As a service to our readers, The Sentinel-Record publishes updates released by the city of Hot Springs and the state of Arkansas.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson held his weekly press update Tuesday at the state Capitol. The following stats were posted Tuesday on the Arkansas Department of Health website:
• 195,930 cumulative confirmed cases, up 2,275 from Monday.
• 1,900.43 rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases, up 118 from Monday.
• 2,104,323 PCR test reports, up 8,702 from Monday.
• 9.3% cumulative PCR infection rate, up from 9.2% Monday.
• 42,958 cumulative probable cases, up 1,832 from Monday.
• 19.5% cumulative antigen infection rate, up from 19.3% Monday.
• 24,408 active confirmed and probable cases, up 1,351 from Monday.
• 210,617 recoveries of confirmed and probable cases, up 2,719 from Monday.
• 1,323 hospitalizations, up 27 from Monday.
• 224 cases on a ventilator, up 12 from Monday.
• 426 ICU admissions, up 14 from Monday.
• 3,205 confirmed deaths, up 27 from Monday.
• 631 probable deaths, up nine from Monday.
• 1,571 nursing home deaths, up 15 from Monday.
• 5,334 cumulative confirmed cases in Garland County, up 191 from Monday.
• 67.57 rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases, up 12.86 from Monday.
• 68,859 PCR and antigen test reports, up 567 from Monday.
• 49,086 private lab reports, 427 from Monday.
• 19,773 public lab reports, up 140 from Monday.
• 8.5% cumulative PCR infection rate, up from 8.2% Monday.
• 609 active confirmed cases in Garland County, up 129 from Monday.
• 4,587 recoveries of confirmed cases in Garland County, up 59 from Monday.
• 899 cumulative probable cases in Garland County, up 38 from Monday.
• 190 active probable cases in Garland County, up 13 from Monday.
• 138 confirmed deaths, up three from Monday.
• 24 probable deaths, up two from Monday.
The 191 confirmed cases reported Tuesday in Garland County set a record, blowing past the previous high set Nov. 11 by 55%.
Tuesday's surge pushed the rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases 24% higher than Monday's peak and set a new peak for active confirmed cases. The 609 reported Tuesday was 27% higher than Monday's count and 12% higher than the previous peak reached Dec. 30.
Tuesday's reported cases increased the county's cumulative polymerase chain reaction infection rate three-tenths of a point to 8.5%.
The record day came as the state's secretary of health said the state could only hope to contain the post-Christmas surge, which has come on the heels of Halloween and Thanksgiving surges that sent the infection curve on a vertical ascent.
The more than 2,200 confirmed cases reported Tuesday set a new peak in the rolling seven-day average, pushing the infection curve more than 6% higher than the previous peak set Sunday.
"What we are seeing now is what all of us have warned about, and that is a surge on top of a surge," Dr. Jose Romero said. "How much of a second surge we have on top of that first surge is unknown. We slowly rise over the week, if we continue that trend will see significant numbers. This is not an exaggeration. The numbers are as they are."
Hutchinson said about 40,000 people in the highest priority category have been vaccinated. He said most of the 180,000 people in Tier 1A should be vaccinated by the end of the month. Vaccinations for 400,000 Arkansans who are 70 and older should begin next month. Vaccinations for front line essential personnel such as teachers and workers in food and agriculture, transit, postal, manufacturing and child care are also expected to start next month, Hutchinson said.
In April, the state expects to begin vaccinating people 65-69, those 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions and other essential workers. A plan to inoculate the broader public will be posted on the Health Department's website by the end of next week, Hutchinson said.
He said the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and National Guard will coordinate with the Health Department, pharmacies and hospitals on vaccine distribution for tiers 1B, 1C and the general public.
"This will be a private sector-led effort that is coordinated and directed by the state," Hutchinson said. "That's the partnership we have, relying on the private sector, their expertise and their relationships in the community."
The state has received more than 130,000 doses. Romero, who also chairs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, said the 20 million doses promised for national delivery by end of the year didn't materialize, forcing the ACIP to raise the age threshold for Tier 1A from 65 to 75.
The state has chosen to include people 70 and older in the top-priority tier.
"We are at this point trying to fit these groups within the constraint of the available vaccine," he said. " ... It's a matter of having to decide between what you have and what the risks are. At that time, the major groups identified were in that 1A."