Arkansas as a whole had a better week this week than last, with a 0.3% growth in new cases and 13.1% growth in testing. While testing is still down compared to most of June, it’s back to late May/early June levels after taking a nosedive last week.
The story was bit more bleak in individual counties. In total, just 31% of the state’s counties had a decrease in new cases July 12-18 compared to the previous week. One county had the same number of new cases, and the rest had an increase in cases. There were 34 counties (45%) that hit a record high in weekly cases. These included Pulaski, Sebastian, Pope, Johnson, and Craighead (full list below). Just 5 counties (7%) hit a record high in weekly testing. These were Washington, Pulaski, Grant, Jefferson, and Columbia.
Of the state’s 75 counties, 64% of them saw scenarios in which new cases outpaced testing or the decline in cases was slower than the decline in testing. But there is good news. 61% of the state’s counties had an increase in testing compared to the previous week. For example, Washington County hit a record high for weekly testing with a 54% increase in testing. It still only did about 3/4 the tests in Benton County, but it’s a huge gain for Washington County, which has struggled with testing.
There were 9 “Holy Grail” counties, counties where cases went down but testing went up. These are: Perry, Searcy, Clay, Pike, Scott, Greene, Benton, Desha, and Saline. There were 9 counties where the decline in new cases outpaced the decline in testing. These are: Hot Spring, Madison, Jackson, Yell, Miller, Sevier, Faulkner, Randolph and Howard. Finally, there were 9 counties where both tests and new cases increased, but testing increased faster. These are: Conway, Clark, White, Cleburne, Washington, Woodruff, Nevada, Jefferson and Van Buren.
This triumvirate of 9’s is a bright spot, especially considering several of these counties had been leading the state in new cases. In particular, Washington, Benton, Yell, and Sevier had a rough June and July. Let’s look a bit deeper at these four counties. Benton saw its lowest number of weekly new cases since the week of May 24. Its testing increased slightly over last week but is still down compared to June. As mentioned before, Washington had a record week in testing (54% increase), while cases rose 15%. Yell County’s new cases decreased 45%, while its testing decreased 13%. And Sevier County’s new cases decreased by 32% to its lowest level since May 10, while testing decreased 14% to its lowest level since May 17. To be clear, we’d rather see declining cases paired with increased testing (like in Benton County). Early May levels in new cases are less encouraging when they’re paired with early May levels in testing.
All four counties had outbreaks related to the poultry industry. One wonders if the decline in these counties is related to a decline in infections or if it’s tied more to one-time testing at poultry plants that has concluded. The CDC recommended that the Arkansas Department of Health oversee serial testing at poultry plants to ensure spread doesn’t continue. I don’t believe that serial testing has begun yet, as I was told last week that a subgroup at ADH was determining how to move forward with the CDC recommendations.
Raw Data By County:
|County||Cases % Change||Notes on Cases||Testing % Change||Notes on Testing|
|Benton||-18.0||lo since May 24||4.1|
|Clay||-46.7||lo since May 31||10.9|
|Hot Spring||-79.2||lo since June 14||-59.8|
|Jackson||-66.7||lo since May 24||-28.8|
|Jefferson||5.3||hi since May 17 (prison)||65.8||hi|
|Lee||25.9||-48.2||lo since May 31|
|Madison||-77.3||lo since May 17||-6.2||lo since May 17|
|Sevier||-32.4||lo since May 10||-14.4||lo since May 17|