The 46% rise in the state's infection curve the last two weeks defies explanation, the state said Tuesday during its weekly COVID-19 press update.
"We just have to expect this from COVID-19," Dr. Jose Romero, the state's secretary of health, said. "We don't know exactly what's going on. We can hypothesize as to why this is happening."
Romero said protection conferred through vaccination wanes over time, as does protection conferred through infection. Gov. Asa Hutchinson referenced a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that found unvaccinated people previously infected and in the hospital with symptoms similar to COVID-19 were five times more likely to test positive than vaccinated people.
"The natural immunity you gain, it is not something that lasts forever," Hutchinson said of protection imparted by infection. "It has an end date. Just like a vaccine over time loses some of its effectiveness, the natural immunity loses its effectiveness and loses it more quickly. Generally speaking, the immunity lasts about 90 days."
Hutchinson said the state's two-week spike mirrors what's happening in other states and countries.
"We see what's happening in Arkansas happening in two-thirds of the states right now," he said. "You look at Europe. That has been ahead of us in terms of trend lines, and they're struggling now.
"The best indicator is that our hospitalizations are not going up at the same rate as the cases, and that's because our vaccination rate has gone up. I think beyond that it's hard to know and predict exactly what COVID-19 is going to do."
Hospitalizations have risen 20% in the last two weeks, less than half of the infection curve's rate of increase.
As a service to our readers, The Sentinel-Record publishes updates released by the city of Hot Springs and the state of Arkansas.
The Arkansas Department of Health is no longer reporting confirmed and probable cases separately. The following stats were posted Tuesday on the Health Department's website:
• 525,130 cumulative cases, up 690 from Monday.
• 629.29 rolling seven-day average of new cases, down 17.71 from Monday.
• 4,204,889 PCR test reports, up 5,385 from Monday.
• 9.1% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Monday.
• 6,080 active cases, up 109 from Monday.
• 1,684 active juvenile cases, down six from Monday.
• 510,265 recoveries, up 572 from Monday.
• 4,375,960 vaccine doses received, up 5,850 from Monday.
• 3,360,927 doses given, up 11,640 from Monday.
• 345 hospitalizations, up 12 from Monday.
• 60 cases on ventilators, down two from Monday.
• 140 ICU patients, down four from Monday.
• 8,627 deaths, up seven from Monday.
• 2,269 nursing home deaths, up two from Monday.
• 16,153 cumulative cases in Garland County, up four from Monday.
• 7.43 rolling seven-day average of new cases, down 0.57 from Monday.
• 164,208 PCR and antigen test reports, up 208 from Monday.
• 10.2% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Monday.
• 76 active cases in Garland County, down 10 from Monday.
• 15,678 recoveries in Garland County, up 14 from Monday.
• 399 deaths, no change from Monday.