Arkansas reports 32 new COVID-19 deaths; vaccinations jump

August 27, 2021 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas reported 32 new COVID-19 deaths Thursday, as a motorcycle rally expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people was postponed following complaints over it being held during the virus surge.

The Department of Health said the state’s COVID-19 death toll since the pandemic began reached 6,806. The state also reported more than 2,300 new coronavirus cases.

Arkansas ranks fifth in the country for new cases per capita, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

The state reported more than 31,000 vaccine doses given, a major spike compared to recent days. A Health Department spokeswoman, however, said some of the doses reported Thursday were data adjustments and did not occur in the previous 24 hours.

The number of people in the state hospitalized with COVID-19 dropped by 43 to 1,325. The number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators dropped by two to 352, a day after the state hit a new high.

There are 528 COVID-19 patients in the state’s intensive care units. Thirty of the state’s ICU beds are currently available, though it was unclear how many are equipped for COVID-19 patients. The state on Tuesday ran out of ICU beds for coronavirus patients, the first time that happened since the pandemic began.

Organizers of the Bikes, Blues and BBQ motorcycle rally announced Thursday they were postponing the event that was set to begin in Fayetteville next month. Washington Regional Medical Center and the city of Fayetteville had urged that it be postponed, saying it would further strain hospitals already overwhelmed by COVID cases.

Organizers did not say when the event would be rescheduled. The decision came hours after the University of Arkansas said it would terminate its agreement allowing the rally to use its parking lots for the event.

“At this time Bikes, Blues, and BBQ organizers do not feel they can offer a quality event with such massive changes on such short notice,” organizers said in a Facebook post. “We will be postponing the event at this time.”