The biggest increase in new cases in more than a week was reported Thursday as testing levels returned to pre-Labor Day weekend levels.
The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care rose above 500 after falling below that level Wednesday for the first time since early August. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday that about two dozen ICU beds were available.
The number of active cases fell below 20,000 Tuesday for the first time since Aug. 3, but active cases reported Thursday rose for the first time since Sept. 4.
Hot Springs City Manager Bill Burrough credited the monoclonal antibody treatment he received last week for keeping him out of the hospital. The city's chief executive has been working from home since testing positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 30. He plans to return to City Hall Monday.
Dr. Jose Romero, the state's secretary of health, recommended all Arkansans with severe COVID-19 seek out the treatment.
"What works is monoclonal antibodies," he said Wednesday at the state's weekly COVID-19 update. "Not anything else. Monoclonal antibodies have been shown to decrease hospitalization by 70% to 85% if started early and given appropriately. That's what patients should be asking for. Not ivermectin. Not any other compound."
The Arkansas Department of Health issued an advisory last month on using veterinary-grade ivermectin to treat COVID-19. According to the advisory, the Arkansas Poison Control Center had received a growing number of calls from people who took ivermectin intended for use in animals or livestock.
Romero said Wednesday that the Health Department can't prohibit doctors from prescribing the drug to treat COVID-19.
The Health Department "doesn't regulate the practice of medicine," he said. "That is up to the medical board. Our stance at the Health Department is not to use veterinary-grade ivermectin. Ivermectin is used and FDA approved for treatment of parasitic diseases and certain infestations.
"Within the scope of practice of each individual physician, they may prescribe a drug off label. That is up to the physician and patient. We are not endorsing the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID. It is not FDA approved for that."
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 Thursday on the Health Department's website:
• 469,977 cumulative cases, up 2,481 from Wednesday.
• 1,677.57 rolling seven-day average of new cases, up four from Wednesday
• 3,726,384 PCR test reports, up 13,401 from Wednesday.
• 9.4% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Wednesday
• 19,714 active cases, up 214 from Wednesday.
• 6,222 active juvenile cases, down 62 from Wednesday.
• 442,980 recoveries, up 2,240 from Wednesday.
• 3,588,980 vaccine doses received, up 6,070 from Wednesday.
• 2,775,485 doses given, up 13,278 from Wednesday.
• 1,194 hospitalizations, down 15 from Wednesday.
• 315 cases on ventilators, down five from Wednesday.
• 508 ICU patients, up 11 from Wednesday.
• 7,169 deaths, up 27 from Wednesday.
• 2,159 nursing home deaths, up two from Wednesday.
• 14,997 cumulative cases in Garland County, up 93 from Wednesday.
• 50.71 rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases, up six from Wednesday.
• 147,887 PCR and antigen test reports, up 637 from Wednesday.
• 10.2% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Wednesday.
• 525 active cases in Garland County, up 41 from Wednesday.
• 14,129 recoveries in Garland County, up 52 from Wednesday.
• 343 deaths, no change from Wednesday.