Zero Arkansas public school districts have Covid-19 infection rates of 50 or more new infections per 10,000 district residents over a 14-day period, according to the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI), citing its analysis of data obtained Monday Nov. 8 from the Arkansas Department of Health. The nonpartisan health policy center has recently expanded its online Covid-19 dashboard to include new known infection rates by county.
ACHI is a nonpartisan, independent health policy center that serves as a catalyst for improving the health of all Arkansans through evidence-based research, public issue advocacy, and collaborative program development.
ACHI’s map showing Covid-19 infection rates in school districts uses the following color key: 0 to 9 new known infections per 10,000 residents over 14 days, dark green; 10 to 19 infections per 10K residents, light green; 20 to 29 infections per 10K residents, yellow; 30 to 49 infections per 10K residents, orange; 50 to 99 infections per 10K residents, red; and 100 or more infections per 10K residents, purple.
The color-shading of a district is based on infections among community residents living within the geographical boundaries of each school district and not on cases among school employees and students.
“It’s encouraging to see no red or purple districts this week,” said ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson. “However, testing rates have declined substantially over the past few weeks, so the numbers of infections displayed on our map underrepresent the risk in each community. Remember: Covid-19 is still present in all our communities, and it is still claiming the lives of Arkansans nearly every day. We must continue to employ every tool we have to fight it: vaccination, which thankfully is available now to children as young as 5; distancing; masking; frequent handwashing; and good ventilation.”
Thompson said that at some point in the future, ACHI anticipates having to suspend its school district-level reporting of infection rates because of low testing rates ― as it did temporarily earlier this year, prior to the Covid-19 resurgence driven by the delta variant.
“To continue providing local decision-makers with information about trends in their communities, we are adding to our dashboard new known infection rates by county,” he said. “The greater availability of test results at the county level leads us to believe we will be able to continue county-level reporting beyond the point where we are no longer able to provide reliable school district-level reporting.”
Known infections reported by ACHI include confirmed and probable cases. Probable cases are based on verbal reporting and antigen test results, as identified by the Department of Health.
Infection rates and counts are not shown for districts with fewer than five reported infections to reduce the possibility of identifying individuals. School district counts do not include infections among incarcerated populations, in nursing homes, or in human development centers.
ACHI also updated its maps and tables displaying COVID-19 vaccination rates by public school district, community, and ZIP code, using Department of Health data current as of Monday Nov. 8. This week, eight school districts have Covid-19 vaccination rates of at least 50 percent of district residents, up from six last week: Bentonville at 56 percent; Cleveland County, Fountain Lake, and Magnet Cove at 54 percent; Eureka Springs at 53 percent; Pulaski County Special School District at 52 percent; and Little Rock and Rogers at 50 percent.