Arkansas experienced a record day for active COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
During the weekly coronavirus press briefing, Gov. Asa Hutchinson released the latest report from the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), which showed that the state currently has 24,408 active cases. This was an increase of 1,351 cases from Monday.
Hospitalizations also reached a record high, numbering 1,323 on Tuesday. The hospitalizations increased by 27 from yesterday, while ventilator usage increased by 12 to 224.
In total, Arkansas has had 238,888 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic’s beginning. This was an increase of 4,107 from Monday. There were 195,930 confirmed cases and 42,958 probable cases reported as part of these figures; this marks an increase of 2,275 and 1,832 for the confirmed and probable cases, respectively.
Deaths also saw a significant increase of 36 on Tuesday, bringing the total death count to 3,836. There have been 3,205 confirmed COVID-related deaths and 631 probable deaths due to COVID.
ADH Secretary Dr. Jose Romero said that the increased active cases will likely be the norm in future. According to Romero, this increase is evidence of a double surge in COVID-19 cases.
“Right now, we are compensating for these increased cases. But these cases will increase. Unfortunately, I need to say that today because what we are seeing now is what I and all of us have warned about: a surge on top of a surge. How much of a second surge we have on top of that first surge is unknown,” he said.
Cases have been steadily increasing in recent weeks, compounded by the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. He expressed the direness of the state’s COVID situation, stating that while transmission could be slowed, it has gotten to a point that it cannot be stopped at the current time.
“This can be slowed down. It cannot be completely stopped at this point,” he said. “This is not an exaggeration. The numbers are as they are.”
He urged the public to continue following established health guidelines, including wearing masks, washing hands and maintaining distance. These steps, Romero said, are the best step until the state can begin to see an effect from its vaccination plans.