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Arkansas posts 41 new virus deaths as hospitalizations drop

August 17, 2021 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas on Tuesday reported 41 more COVID-19 deaths as the number of people hospitalized from the virus dropped.

The Department of Health reported the state’s deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began now totals 6,539. The state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations decreased by 49 to 1,410, a day after the state reached a new record for people in the hospital due to the virus.

The state reported 2,203 new virus cases, bringing its total since the virus began to 422,866.

Arkansas ranks fourth in the country for new cases per capita, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers. The state’s cases and hospitalizations have skyrocketed in recent weeks because of the ultra-contagious delta variant and the state’s low vaccination rate.

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There are only 17 intensive care unit beds available in the state, the department said. There are 542 COVID-19 patients in ICUs around the state and 328 on ventilators. Gov. Asa Hutchinson tweeted Tuesday that COVID patients make up about 47% of the state’s adult ICU beds.

Nearly 39% of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated against the virus. The department reported more than 12,000 doses of the virus were given on Monday.

The virus deaths jumped as the public school year began statewide this week. Most public school students will be required to wear a mask, following moves by dozens of districts in response to a state judge blocking Arkansas’ mask mandate ban.

More than 70 public school districts and charter schools have imposed some form of mask mandate since the judge’s preliminary injunction against the law.