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's website:
• 266,516 cumulative confirmed cases, up 122 from Thursday.
• 125 rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases, down 3.43 from Thursday.
• 3,050,504 PCR test reports, up 2,820 from Thursday.
• 8.7% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Thursday.
• 74,614 cumulative probable cases, up 92 from Thursday.
• 14.5% cumulative antigen infection rate, no change from Thursday.
• 333,228 recoveries of confirmed and probable cases, up 205 from Thursday.
• 2,622,010 vaccine doses received, up 100 from Thursday.
• 1,967,771 doses given, up 9,910 from Thursday.
• 201 hospitalizations, down two from Thursday.
• 33 cases on a ventilator, up two from Thursday.
• 86 ICU patients, up two from Thursday.
• 4,626 confirmed deaths, up two from Thursday.
• 1,204 probable deaths, no change from Thursday.
• 2,091 nursing home deaths, no change from Thursday.
• 8,662 cumulative confirmed cases in Garland County, up two from Thursday.
• 5.71 rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases, down 1.43 from Thursday.
• 118,099 PCR and antigen test reports, up 74 from Thursday.
• 89,959 private lab reports, up 73 from Thursday.
• 28,140 public lab reports, up one from Thursday.
• 8.5% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Thursday.
• 72 active confirmed cases in Garland County, down 11 from Thursday.
• 8,378 recoveries of confirmed cases in Garland County, up 12 from Thursday.
• 1,652 cumulative probable cases in Garland County, up two from Thursday.
• 33 active probable cases in Garland County, down four from Thursday.
• 212 confirmed deaths, up one from Thursday.
• 49 probable deaths, no change from Thursday.
The holiday weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, but this year's celebration also represents another milestone.
"This year, Memorial Day also marks the end of the COVID-19 emergency for Arkansans," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Friday in his weekly address. "We are making progress against the pandemic. Normal life is in sight, and that's something to be thankful for this Memorial Day."
Hutchinson said earlier this month that he wouldn't ask the Legislature to extend the public health emergency he first declared in March 2020. His March 31 order extending the emergency through late May expires Sunday. Earlier this year, lawmakers limited the executive branch's emergency powers, including its ability to unilaterally declare a public health emergency.
The rolling seven-day average of new polymerase chain reaction-confirmed cases was 173.71 last Memorial Day, tracing a point on the infection curve 28% higher than Friday's moving average. The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals Friday was 96% higher than it was a year earlier.
"I am confident that ending the declaration is the correct action," Hutchinson said Friday. "Arkansans have demonstrated they will do the right thing, so we can safely move from an emergency response to the day-by-day management of the virus."
Much has changed since the height of the pandemic in January. Hospitalizations have fallen by almost 90%. Vaccinations have reduced the number of deaths from the more than 25 a day the state averaged in December and January to less than three a day in May.
"But these encouraging signs and the end of the emergency declaration do not change the fact that COVID-19 is still in our community," Hutchinson said. "The public health concerns remain, and we must continue to take it seriously."
The governor's office announced Friday that Hutchison will take a couple of days off next week and will not hold his weekly press briefing Tuesday.