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COVID-19 update: Focus shifts to vaccinations

March 27, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.
This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). - Image by CDC via The Associated Press

As a service to our readers, The Sentinel-Record publishes updates released by the city of Hot Springs and the state of Arkansas.

The following stats were posted Friday on the Arkansas Department of Health website:

• 258,881 cumulative confirmed cases, up 106 from Thursday.

• 132.43 rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases, down seven from Thursday.

• 2,838,261 PCR test reports, up 4,134 from Thursday.

• 9.1% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Thursday.

• 70,814 cumulative probable cases, up 78 from Thursday.

• 16.2% cumulative antigen infection rate, down from 16.3% Thursday.

• 2,061 active confirmed and probable cases, down 34 from Thursday.

• 1,599,810 vaccine doses received, up 32,150 from Thursday.

• 939,908 doses given, up 21,418 from Thursday.

• 176 hospitalizations, down five from Thursday.

• 32 cases on a ventilator, down six from Thursday.

• 71 ICU patients, down seven from Thursday.

• 4,452 confirmed deaths, up four from Thursday.

• 1,131 probable deaths, up eight from Thursday.

• 2,058 nursing home deaths, up one from Thursday.

• 8,429 cumulative confirmed cases in Garland County, up three from Thursday.

• 7.14 rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases, up 0.28 from Thursday.

• 110,363 PCR and antigen test reports, up 287 from Thursday.

• 83,520 private lab reports, up 249 from Thursday.

• 26,843 public lab reports, up 38 from Thursday.

• 8.8% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Thursday.

• 35 active confirmed cases in Garland County, down four from Thursday.

• 1,589 cumulative probable cases in Garland County, no change from Thursday.

• Five active probable cases in Garland County, no change from Thursday.

• 203 confirmed deaths, no change from Thursday.

• 49 probable deaths, up one from Thursday.

With state and national focus shifting from testing to vaccinating, transmission of the virus isn't being tracked as closely as it was earlier in the pandemic.

The White House said the 3.4 million doses administered Friday were the most given in a single day, putting the country on track for 200 million shots by the end of April.

The acceleration of shots has coincided with a decline in testing. The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said the number of daily tests has declined by 35% since the height of the pandemic in mid-January.

"We know the number of tests have declined, suggesting we may be missing a number of asymptomatic infections," University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Public Health said earlier this week. "This presents some worries because of the (United Kingdom) variant known to be circulating in the state."

The college said Arkansas' rate of 4.1 tests per 1,000 residents is higher than the national rate of 2.1 per 1,000 residents. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the decline in testing indicates fewer people have symptoms associated with the virus.

"The testing is still at a modest level," he said Tuesday at his weekly briefing. "The fact is when people don't feel threatened, or don't feel ill, they're not going to get their test. We encourage them to whenever they have symptoms or they've been traveling, but our testing will probably continue at that lower level." Hutchinson said testing isn't as urgent as it was earlier in the pandemic.

"With low case numbers, it's hard to get participants in a surveillance program," he said.

"We'd have to invest additional resources. Much of the same staff doing testing is doing vaccinations. There's a concentration of our effort right now on the vaccinations. As we have the resources and demand, we'll try to increase our surveillance as well."

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