It’s not a pretty picture. Updated University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) COVID-19 modeling suggests the virus will hit the state harder before it, ideally, relents. Apathy and COVID fatigue are primary causes of “increasing pressure” on hospitals, according to UAMS.
“Taking all statistics presented in this report as a whole, we conclude COVID-19 in Arkansas has entered a phase of community spread in which the virus is so prevalent it can no longer be associated with a person or a place,” noted the UAMS report posted Tuesday (Nov. 24).
The modeling also suggests the decline in cases will be gradual – meaning a longer time with higher case numbers – than previously estimated and will continue through July 2021. UAMS authors said the new estimate is “unsettling.”
Also on Tuesday, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) reported 2,122 new confirmed and probable cases, below the record of 2,312 set Nov. 13. There were 148,312 total cumulative confirmed and probable cases. Confirmed and probable deaths rose by 18 to 2,405. Hospitalizations rose again to 988, up 14 from Monday.
Following are other findings in the UAMS modeling report.
• The short-term forecast describes significant continued growth in COVID-19 cases over the next 15 days. A plausible reason for that outcome is that portions of the community do not see themselves at high risk of infection and are behaving accordingly. A second plausible reason is pandemic fatigue.
• The greatest number of cases are in adults between the ages of 18 and 59. Adults younger than 60 may have developed the impression that COVID-19 is not a significant risk for them, or if infected they will not develop serious disease.
• The trend for the greatest number of hospitalizations continues to be in adults 60 to 74 years. Children younger than 17 continue to have the fewest number of hospitalizations. Nevertheless, the number of hospitalizations in children is increasing.
• The per capita hospitalization rate and the rate of hospitalization for COVID-19 patients strongly suggest an increasing pressure on regional and county hospitals due to COVID-19 patients. … Hospitals in larger urban areas, including UAMS, should expect not just pressure from COVID-19 cases originating in the cities where they are located, but also from transfers as regional and county hospitals are unable to meet the demand or provide care for patients with severe COVID-19 disease.
Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero again stressed the need for Arkansans to observe health safety protocols – wear a mask, stay physically distanced and wash hands – during the Thanksgiving break.
“We have the potential to overload our healthcare system if we do not act appropriately,” Romero said Tuesday during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s weekly COVID briefing.
Romero also said it could be the third quarter of 2021 before vaccines are available for most Arkansans.
The UAMS report also noted that COVID cases may be fewer in the long run but the peak will arrive sooner than expected. Following are the mean-case and worst-case estimates.
• Mean-case estimates
April 4 (previously April 7)
Active cases: 32,435 (previously 35,718)
Hospitalizations: 778 (previously 857)
ICU beds: 272 (previously 299)
Ventilators: 95 (previously 104)
• Worst-case estimates
March 31 (previously March 30)
Active cases: 61,123 (previously 59,421)
Hospitalizations: 1,466 (previously 1,426)
ICU beds: 513 (previously 499)
Ventilators: 179 (previously 174)
COVID REPORT – Nov. 24
New known COVID-19 cases, active cases, tests
• 130,826 known cumulative PCR cases, with 1,363 new community cases and 58 cases in correctional facilities
• 17,486 probable cases, up from 16,785 on Monday
• There are 13,352 active cases, up from 13,252 on Monday
• There were 10,359 test results provided in the previous 24 hours.
• There were 4,571 antigen tests in the previous 24 hours.
• 2,208, up 17
• 197 probable COVID-related deaths, up 1
988, up 14
160, down 4
The top five counties with new known cases reported Tuesday were: Washington (205), Pulaski (201), Benton (174), Saline (110), and Craighead (73). The counties accounted for 56% of the 1,363 new community cases.
As of Tuesday at 1:30 p.m., there were 12,481,115 U.S. cases and 258,665 deaths. Globally, there were 59,508,339 cases and 1,403,513 deaths.