Gov. Asa Hutchinson wouldn't say if the worst of the delta variant has passed, but he said the decline in new cases and hospitalizations are welcome trends.
Hospitalizations have declined 23% from their Aug. 12 peak, and the rolling seven-day average of new cases has fallen 27% over the last month.
"In April, I thought the worst was behind us," he said Tuesday at his weekly press update, the 200th he's given since the pandemic started last year. "Here we are in September, and we're still dealing with it. I would not predict the future. I'm hopeful about the future and am encouraged by the trend in the last couple of weeks with the gradual decline in cases, and particularly hospitalizations."
A Labor Day-related spike has yet to materialize.
"We are watching the numbers from the past holiday very closely," Dr. Jose Romero, the state's secretary of health, said. "At this time we're not seeing a dramatic increase. We're hopeful that we're going to make it through that holiday without having a large number of cases."
Romero said the state won't know until later this week, or early next week, if the record-setting crowd that attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and University of Texas football game Saturday at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium will have a significant effect on the curve.
Hutchinson said he's hopeful the state's vaccine program helped narrow paths of transmission available to the virus during the holiday weekend and Saturday's large gathering in Fayetteville.
"In terms of the crowd, I just hope that 60-70% of that crowd was vaccinated," he said. "I know there were some masks that were worn. Hopefully, people took the right precautions. I know in some cases they didn't. Hopefully, the extent of our vaccination program will carry the day and keep us safe in those type of venues."
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:
• 477,191 cumulative cases, up 1,544 from Monday.
• 1,696.57 rolling seven-day average of new cases, up 137.28 from Monday.
• 3,772,950 PCR test reports, up 8,972 from Monday.
• 9.4% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Monday.
• 17,084 active cases, down 737 from Monday.
• 5,095 active juvenile cases, down 303 from Monday.
• 452,656 recoveries, up 2,242 from Monday.
• 3,646,870 vaccine doses received, up 9,330 from Monday.
• 2,807,203 doses given, up 6,771 from Monday
• 1,097 hospitalizations, down 16 from Monday.
• 281 cases on ventilators, down five from Monday.
• 432 ICU patients, down 11 from Monday.
• 7,334 deaths, up 36 from Monday.
• 2,180 nursing home deaths, up two from Monday.
• 15,156 cumulative cases in Garland County, up 34 from Monday.
• 150,096 PCR and antigen test reports, up 1,034 from Monday.
• 10.27% cumulative PCR infection rate, down from 10.3% Monday.
• 410 active cases in Garland County, down 24 from Monday.
• 14,393 recoveries in Garland County, up 57 from Monday.
• 353 deaths, up one from Monday.