Arkansas announced its 825,000th case of covid-19 on Friday, two years after the state’s first case was identified. The announcement came as the number of people hospitalized with the virus in the state fell to its lowest level in almost nine months.
The state’s count of cases rose Friday by 665, the second consecutive daily increase that was larger than the one a week earlier. However, Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, the Arkansas Department of Health’s chief medical officer, said that more than 200 of those cases were “old reports” from before March that had been faxed in by a laboratory.
She said the department’s epidemiologists were looking into why the cases weren’t added earlier.
“We don’t know what happened — whether we’re just now seeing faxes that came in earlier or whether they were just recently sent,” she said.
The state’s official death toll from the virus, as tracked by the Health Department, rose Friday by 28, to 10,864.
The number of Arkansans hospitalized with the disease fell by 12, to 268, its lowest level since June 20. It was the first time this year in which the number had been below the low point it reached in November between the summer 2021 surge in cases driven by the delta variant, and the surge that began in late December powered by the omicron variant.
The number of the state’s virus patients who were on ventilators and in intensive care, already below their low points between the two surges, also continued falling on Friday.
The number on ventilators fell by one, to 49, its lowest level since June 15. The number in intensive care fell by four, to 84, its lowest level since June 7.
The average daily increase in the state’s case count over a rolling seven-day period rose Friday to 493, which was still down from an average of 583 a day a week earlier.
Already at its lowest level since June 21, the number of cases in the state that were considered active fell by 110, to 2,334, as recoveries and deaths outpaced new cases.
Since the first coronavirus patient was diagnosed in Arkansas two years ago on March 11, 2020, the state has reported 825,653 cases of the disease. Of those, 812,219 are now considered recovered.
More details in Saturday’s Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.