The good news is long-term projections for COVID-19 cases in Arkansas is down from previous reports. The bad news is there remains “significant growth” in new cases and deaths, according to updated modeling from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
The UAMS modeling, updated Tuesday (Sept. 15), projects 121,062 known COVID cases and 2,088 deaths by Oct. 31. The state was at 70,125 cases and 1,003 deaths as of Sept. 15. The report, which does not include results from antigen testing, credits Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s face mask mandate as partially responsible for a reduction in the growth of new cases.
“As already mentioned, there are some indications in the data that the growth of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths may be slowing. If the slowing trend continues, we believe it is most likely due to the face mask order,” noted the report published by the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health at UAMS.
Another bright spot in the report was “relatively slower county-level growth in this report than in the previous report, with only four counties having two-week rates of change greater than 100%. Three of the four counties with over 100% growth in cases in the last two weeks are contiguous counties in Northwest Arkansas.”
However, the report did point a finger at the behavior of younger Arkansans who may believe COVID will not have a serious impact on them.
“Still, there is significant growth in the numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. A plausible reason for this outcome is that some significant portions of the community do see themselves at high risk of infections and are behaving accordingly. … The greatest number of cases are in adults between the ages of 18 and 59, as discussed in more detail later in the report. Adults younger than 60 may have developed the impression that COVID-19 is not a significant risk for them or, just as badly, may believe, even if infected, they will not develop serious disease. However, the greatest number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are in adults 35 to 60. Even though adults 18 to 60 may be at lower risk of death than those over the age of 70, there is still significant risk. Furthermore, a disease with a fairly high risk of hospitalization is extremely serious, and, given the possible long-term consequences of COVID-19 infection, should not be taken lightly.”
The long-term estimates predict a decline in mean-case COVID cases from 90,522 to 83,605, with the death projection falling from 2,263 to 2,090. Following are the updated long-term estimates.
• Mean-case estimates
Active cases: 83,605
ICU beds: 836
• Worst-case estimates
Active cases: 122,267
ICU beds: 1,222
Gov. Hutchinson’s office was asked for comment on the updated UAMS modeling. His comments will be added if received.
Link here for the full PDF UAMS modeling report.