By Rob Wells
(This article, originally published Aug. 6, was updated with Aug. 9 data)
About 9.1% of all COVID-19 cases in Arkansas involve fully immunized people since Feb. 1, the Arkansas Department of Health said Monday, providing new insight about the extent of the delta variant in the state.
The health department said 9% of all COVID-19 deaths since Feb. 1 involved fully immunized individuals. And it said 7.4% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations in that time period involved people fully immunized. Overall, 14.6% of the 22,815 active cases involve fully immunized individuals.
The data was released as overall COVID-19 cases escalate in Arkansas. Just eight intensive care beds remain open in the entire state, the health department said Monday, as hospitalizations from COVID-19 reached a record 1,376 cases, eclipsing the prior record of 1,371 cases on Jan. 11.
On Friday, 3,037 cases were reported, illustrating the growing severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in Arkansas. This ranks No. 13 on the list of the largest one-day reports of COVID cases in the state; Jan. 1, 2021 was the record with 4,304 cases.
Arkansas, with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation, is suffering a major outbreak of the virus due to spread of the delta variant, which is far more infectious than the original COVID-19 virus that emerged in January 2020.
On Friday, the Arkansas State Legislature adjourned without altering its statewide mask ban that prevents governmental entities from ordering employees or public school students to wear a mask and protect themselves from COVID-19. This has led to legal challenges. The Associated Press reported that Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox issued an order temporarily blocking enforcement of the mask ban that Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed in April.
The new data release offered some sobering new insights about the spread of the virus among small children. It shows 1,060 small children have active COVID-19 cases in Arkansas. Overall, there are 2,631 children with COVID-19 who are under age 12, all of whom are ineligible for the vaccine. People aged 25 to 34 represent the largest group with 4,297 active cases, followed by the age 35 to 44 group, with 3,640 active cases.