Active COVID-19 cases have doubled since last week, and hospitalizations have increased by 373 in that same amount of time.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson shared those statistics at the opening of his weekly media briefing held Tuesday.
Active cases rose from 32,000 to 64,000 statewide.
Hutchinson announced that $50 million from the American Rescue Plan, approved by the ARPA steering committee, would provide hospitals funding to temporarily increase capacity in response to the rising number of patients.
The proposed plan includes adding 98 COVID ICU beds and 167 COVID medical beds to be funded for 28-45 days based on the recommendations from the Arkansas Department of Health. The hospitals which will receive those beds, according to the governor’s office, are:
St. Bernards Medical Center – Jonesboro
Mercy – Rogers
SVI – LR
SVI – Hot Springs
Unity Health – White County
Baptist Health – Conway
Baptist Health – Van Buren
Mercy – Fort Smith
“Omicron is here, it is here and raging across Arkansas, but what we see from the data is this will pass through,” Hutchinson said. “We’ve got to hold the line and make sure we take the actions so we can get through January and February where we expect to see this variant diminish significantly.”
Hutchinson said the schools should continue in-class instruction, and he rejected shelter-in-place recommendations, but stressed that people should be vaccinated and tested.
He also pointed out that a one-day survey conducted Jan. 4, by the Arkansas Department of Health, showed that about 30 percent of patients with COVID-19 in Arkansas hospitals had found out they had the virus because the hospital tests everyone who comes in for any reason, not because they showed symptoms of the virus.
In December the state ordered 1.5 million rapid at-home tests to be available for free to Arkansans. The state has received the first shipment of 211,000 at-home testing kits and is making them available to distribution locations such as public libraries, and public health units. The Arkansas National Guard is assisting in delivery of the tests.
The Department of Health reported 7,756 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and that there had been another 25 deaths due to the virus.
U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford announced this week that he has tested positive for COVID-19.
According to a statement released Monday, Crawford is fully vaccinated against the virus, and he plans to remain in Jonesboro this week, having tested positive last week, adding that he intends to vote by proxy for the week ahead.
Here are the totals of current active COVID-19 cases in Northeast Arkansas counties:
Craighead – 3,704
Crittenden – 1,584
Greene – 1,228
Mississippi – 1,010
Poinsett – 654
Cross – 361
Randolph – 229
Lawrence – 226
Jackson – 225
Clay – 195