Arkansas: 26 new COVID deaths, hospital stats dip slightly

August 18, 2021 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas reported 26 new COVID-19 deaths Wednesday as the state’s hospitalizations from the virus dropped slightly for the second day in a row.

The Department of Health said total deaths from the virus since the pandemic began now totals 6,565. The state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped by 38 to 1,372. Arkansas’ virus cases increased by 2,685.

“These deaths are fellow Arkansans, neighbors, and friends, and they are mostly avoidable with the vaccine,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson tweeted Wednesday.

There are only 15 intensive care unit beds available in the state, the department said. There are 524 COVID-19 patients in ICUs around the state and 326 on ventilators.

Arkansas ranks fourth in the country for new cases per capita, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers. The state’s cases have grown because of the ultra-contagious delta variant and Arkansas’ low vaccination rate. Only about 39% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated against the virus.

The number of educational institutions imposing mask requirements following a judge’s decision to block the state’s mask mandate ban continued to grow. Northwest Arkansas Community College said it would require face coverings indoors.

More than 70 public school districts and charter schools have approved mask mandates since the preliminary injunction against the ban. The requirements cover more than half the state’s public school students.