Craighead County is on the verge of having the most COVID-19 cases in the region, as the pandemic continues its unfettered surge in the northeast quadrant of the state. The latest increases come as the largest university in the region, Arkansas State University, welcomed students back into their dorms this weekend and local school districts prepared for in-class instruction starting next week.
In Craighead County, the number of confirmed cases has reached 1,482 – the exact same number of cases reported in the region’s previous hot spot Crittenden County. At least 13 people have died from the virus in Craighead County, while 24 have died in Crittenden County, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.
St. Francis County has had 1,238 confirmed case with three deaths, and Mississippi County has had 1,154 cases with 14 confirmed deaths. Lawrence County has had 230 cases with nine deaths, while in Greene County 534 people have tested positive and three have died. Poinsett County now has 340 cases with four reported deaths.
“Northeast Arkansas is not going in the right direction,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said earlier this month.
The grim numbers come as Northeast Arkansas, along with the rest of the state is preparing for in-class student instruction. ASU students moved into their dorms this weekend. Classes in the university system are slated to begin Monday (Aug. 24). The school has not yet released the number of students it expects on its Jonesboro campus this fall, or at any of the satellite institutions affiliated with the school.
Student enrollment is typically tabulated about two weeks after school starts, and drop dates are past.
ASU went ahead with the move-in plans even as schools around the country are turning to all online classes this fall, such as Lyon College in Batesville. Late on Monday (Aug. 17) afternoon UNC-Chapel Hill in North Carolina announced it was moving to all online instruction after another 130 students tested positive for COVID-19.