The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care fell below 500 Wednesday for the first time in a month, according to Arkansas Department of Health statistics.
"As of 10 a.m. we have 23 ICU beds available, including COVID and general ICU," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday at his weekly press update. "We have at least 10 COVID beds available, plus two pediatric ICU beds available. That's closer than we like, but it is better than what it has been."
He said a U.S. Department of Defense medical military team is scheduled to arrive at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences today. The 14 nurses, four doctors and two respiratory therapists will work at the hospital for 30 days, a deployment that Hutchinson said could be extended.
The Health Department said school districts with mask requirements had lower per capita rates of infection than those with no mask requirements. During the first week of school, districts with full mask policies had rates 13% lower than those with no mask policies. The former's rates were 27% lower during the second week and 38% lower during the third week.
Secretary of Education Johnny Key said three districts have shifted to virtual learning, including districtwide shifts at the Western Yell County and Lafayette County districts. An elementary school in the Rogers School District also moved to virtual learning.
"Our numbers of in-school cases are higher this year than last year, however, the number of interruptions has not been as frequent this year because of the vaccine being available now and in many of our districts we have a good, sizable percentage of staff who've been vaccinated," Key said.
"Last year, because of staff quarantines or staff positive cases, school could not continue. In these smaller districts that has been the challenge, the unavailability of staff due to positive cases or due to quarantines."
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 Wednesday on the Health Department's website:
• 467,496 cumulative cases, up 2,181 from Tuesday.
• 1,673.57 rolling seven-day average of new cases, down 101.29 from Tuesday.
• 3,713,343 PCR test reports, up 9,465 from Tuesday.
• 9.4% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Tuesday.
• 19,500 active cases, down 293 from Tuesday.
• 6,284 active juvenile cases, down 108 from Tuesday.
• 440,740 recoveries, up 2,441 from Tuesday.
• 3,582,910 vaccine doses received, up 19,740 from Tuesday.
• 2,762,207 doses given, up 7,717 from Tuesday.
• 1,209 hospitalizations, down 19 from Tuesday.
• 320 cases on ventilators, down one from Tuesday.
• 497 ICU admissions, down 16 from Tuesday.
• 7,142 deaths, up 34 from Tuesday.
• 2,157 nursing home deaths, up one from Tuesday.
• 14,904 cumulative cases in Garland County, up 57 from Tuesday.
• 44.71 rolling seven-day average of new cases, down 7.86 from Tuesday.
• 147,250 PCR and antigen test reports, up 750 from Tuesday.
• 10.2% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Tuesday.
• 484 active cases in Garland County, down 18 from Tuesday.
• 14,077 recoveries in Garland County, up 75 from Tuesday.
• 343 deaths, no change from Tuesday.