COVID-19 Weekly Update: Arkansas COVID-19 ICU beds fill as hospitals scramble for space

By Sarah Komar
The Arkansas Traveler

The healthcare crisis spurred by the spread of the virulent delta variant in Arkansas reached new heights Tuesday, as Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that every ICU bed in the state allotted for COVID-19 patients was full.

In a late-morning press conference, Hutchinson said that even with recent efforts to increase capacity, all Arkansas hospitals had run out of space for treating critical COVID-19 patients. Any additional patients arriving in full emergency departments would have to wait until space became available, Hutchinson said.

About four hours after his initial press conference, Hutchinson tweeted that a drop in hospitalized patients from Monday “relieves some pressure on ICU capacity,” and that “all COVID patients have access as needed to ICU.”

Hospitalizations in Arkansas were 1,325 Thursday, down by 43 from the day earlier, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. Statewide, 352 patients were on ventilators Thursday, a decrease of two from the previous day.

The ADH reported 32 new deaths from confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 Thursday. The additional deaths bring the toll in Arkansas to 6,806.

Statewide, total active cases (confirmed and probable) were 23,575 on Thursday, a decrease of 12, according to the ADH. Total cumulative cases increased by 2,318 Thursday, for a total of 443,564 according to the ADH.

State health officials had administered just over 2.6 million vaccine doses to Arkansans by Tuesday, according to the ADH, with nearly 350,000 people partially immunized and about 1.17 million people fully immunized. Approximately 11,000 new doses were administered between Tuesday and Wednesday, with over 67,000 administered in a week.

The over 1.17 million fully vaccinated Arkansans represent about 38.8% of the state’s total population. About 51.6% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

About 77% of Arkansas’ vaccine supply — nearly 3.4 million doses — had been distributed by Tuesday.

Washington County reported 2,100 total active cases (confirmed and probable) and Benton County reported 1,726 total active cases on Thursday, according to the ADH.

Between Monday and Tuesday, officials confirmed 36 new campus cases of COVID-19, according to the UA COVID-19 Dashboard. There were 63 active cases on campus by Tuesday. There was a 13% positivity rate for the week of Aug. 23-24 based on a total of 146 tests.

(Sarah Komar is Editor-in-Chief of the Arkansas Traveler. A version of this article first appeared on that website)

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The University of Arkansas School of Journalism and Strategic Media operates this site as an independent source of news and as a community service for Arkansas residents. Students produce the content here under the supervision of Rob Wells, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Journalism. The data presented here is collected at roughly the same time each day from the Arkansas Department of Health website.

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