By Mary Hennigan
Arkansas had more than 15,000 new COVID-19 illnesses in November, down about 1,500, or 8%, from October, even though cases started picking up toward the end of the month.
The November totals are still triple the count that the state reported in April and May of this year.
Deaths in November significantly dropped and totalled just under 300, whereas they were nearly 700 in October. This also follows a pattern that experts said they expected to see. The slow in deaths lagged behind the slow in new cases, now, with the nearly 60% drop in deaths, it seems like the two are closer to alignment.
In the last few months, health experts have kept a close eye at the pediatric cases. In November, Arkansans under age 18 had the highest percentage change in new cases. Those up to age 10 had a 5% increase and those age 11 to 17 at almost 4%. The other age groups had increases of 3% or less.
At the end of November, there were 409 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Patients on ventilators stayed below 100 all month, ending the month with 73 on ventilators. Aside from the end of October, Arkansas hospitals have not had less than 100 patients on ventilators since mid-July.
It’s unclear how long this reduced hospital load will last because new COVID-19 cases began creeping up at the end of the month. The highest one-day count of the month, 1,044, was on Nov 30.
The World Health Organization has recently listed the Omicron as a “variant of concern,” but Gov. Asa Hutchinson said there is not enough information to make definitive decisions about the variant. Meanwhile, Secretary of Health Jose Romero continued to encourage the vaccine as it is the best way to protect the public.
Vaccinations during November rose to the highest rate since August, and totalled more than a quarter of a million doses given during the month.
–Rachell Sanchez-Smith contributed to this article