The Arkansas Department of Health on Tuesday reported 583 new COVID-19 cases in the state.

Active cases in the state totaled 19,794, a decrease of 1,881 from the day before.

Thirty-eight more deaths were attributed to COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 7,108 since the pandemic began last year.

There were 1,228 hospitalizations in the state as of Tuesday, an increase of eight patients from the day before, and 321 patients were on ventilators.

The department of health reported 143 active COVID-19 cases among Jackson County residents as of Tuesday, which was seven fewer than the day before, and a total of 41 deaths due to the virus. There have been 3,826 total COVID-19 cases reported in Jackson County since last year.

The number of current active cases dropped among residents in other Northeast Arkansas counties as well: Clay, 159; Craighead, 1,116; Crittenden, 365; Cross, 109; Greene, 570; Lawrence, 213; Mississippi, 422; Poinsett, 240; and Randolph, 168.

Counties in the state with the largest number of new cases reported Tuesday were Benton with 61, Craighead with 53, and Pulaski with 48.

COVID-19 vaccinations are still increasing in the state. The department of health reports the number of Arkansas residents known to be fully immunized totals 1,253,237.

In Arkansas and across the country health experts and medical groups continue to try to stamp out the growing use of a decades-old parasite drug to treat COVID-19, warning that it can cause harmful side effects and that there’s little evidence it helps.

More Americans are turning to ivermectin, a cheap drug used to kill worms and other parasites in humans and animals.

Federal health officials have seen a surge in prescriptions this summer, accompanied by worrying increases in reported overdoses. The drug was even given to inmates at a jail in northwest Arkansas for COVID-19, despite federal warnings against that use.

Last week, the top U.S. professional groups for doctors and pharmacists appealed for an “immediate end” to the drug’s use outside of research.

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) urged caution around unsourced information, bold claims, or instant cures made on social media or circulating among friends.

“Instead, seek information supported by data and backed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other leading medical organizations,” the ACEP stated in a release last Tuesday. “Based on the scientific data, the best way to protect yourself from the virus and prevent the spread is to get vaccinated and continue to practice safety measures like covering your face and social distancing. Consult ACEP’s Vaccine Information Center for answers to frequently asked questions about the virus and vaccines.”

More information also can be found on the Arkansas Department of Health website at https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov.

Studies are now underway in the U.S. and overseas to determine if the drug has any effect on preventing or blunting COVID-19.

Ivermectin is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat infections of roundworms and other tiny parasites in humans and animals like cows, horses and dogs. Tablets are used for internal parasites while ointments are used to treat head lice and other skin infections. The generic drug works by paralyzing the worms and killing their offspring. The FDA has tried to debunk online claims that animal-strength versions of the drug can help fight COVID-19.

By mid-August U.S. pharmacies were filling 88,000 weekly prescriptions for the medication, a 24-fold increase from pre-COVID levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, U.S. poison control centers have seen a five-fold increase in emergency calls related to the drug, with some incidents requiring hospitalization.

Early laboratory research showed ivermectin slowed the replication of coronavirus when grown in monkey cells. But such studies are not useful for gauging real-world effectiveness in humans.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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