JONESBORO — Craighead and Jackson counties each recorded 69 confirmed new coronavirus cases Wednesday and Craighead had another 14 cases listed as probable, according to information from the Arkansas Department of Health.
Craighead and Mississippi counties also had one death each.
The spike in new cases likely stems from a new outbreak at the state-run McPherson prison unit.
Statewide, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, rose by 1,328 to 122,481. The death toll rose by 28 to 2,085 confirmed and 190 probable. The new confirmed cases came from the results of 9,924 PCR tests, while 2,467 of the less accurate, but quicker antigen tests produced the probable results.
Statewide, 903 COVID patients were in hospitals, including 339 in intensive care and 143 were on ventilators. In Northeast Arkansas, 178 people were admitted to hospitals, including 46 in ICUs and 17 on ventilators.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson noted COVID hospitalizations once again reached a new all-time high.
“This puts a strain on our medical teams and it’s never been more important for all of us to do our part and be part of the solution,” Hutchinson said in a news release. “Thanks to everyone for making common sense and necessary adjustments for Thanksgiving.”
On Wednesday, Craighead County had 760 active cases, an increase of 39 from Tuesday, and Dr. Shane Speights, City of Jonesboro medical director and dean of NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University said doctors are concerned that the numbers will grow, leading to more deaths and hospital overload.
“We are seeing growth in active cases, but perhaps more significantly, we are seeing a disproportionate growth in hospitalizations, which indicate we have many more cases in the community than we can identify,” Speights said.
Mayor Harold Perrin echoed the warnings of local, state and national health experts about the coming holiday season.
Citing alarming growth of active COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Jonesboro, Perrin advised residents to be particularly careful for the sake of not only loved ones but front-line workers, who can end up risking their own health and safety as the spike grows.
“I want to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family, as usual,” Perrin said in a news release. “But these are not usual times. So we will have a small gathering of immediate family, and I urge everyone to keep their gatherings small and follow all the protocols recommended by the Jonesboro medical directors, the Arkansas Department of Health, and the CDC.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends celebrating Thanksgiving with those in your daily household and connecting with extended family via video chat. Small outdoor gatherings with friends and family constitute a more moderate risk, and higher risk activities include large indoor gatherings.
“I certainly will not be calling off Thanksgiving at the Perrin house,” the mayor said. “But we have talked about the best way to do it, and we will take the recommended procedures to be safe. I hope everyone does.”
Northeast Arkansas COVID-19 cases by county through Wednesday:
Craighead – 5,665 confirmed (up 69 from Tuesday), 542 probable (up 14), 760 active cases (up 39); 64 confirmed deaths, 6 probable.
Greene – 1,934 confirmed (up 44), 396 probable (up 9); 425 active (up 7); 24 confirmed deaths, 2 probable.
Lawrence – 908 confirmed (up 8), 133 probable (down 1); 96 active (down 1); 27 confirmed deaths.
Poinsett – 1,367 confirmed (up 16), 147 probable (up 3); 178 active (down 33); 32 confirmed deaths, 5 probable.
Mississippi – 2,689 confirmed (up 24), 203 probable (down 1); 268 active cases (down 29); 65 confirmed deaths, 14 probable.
Jackson – 1,085 confirmed (up 69), 273 probable (up 2); 349 active cases (up 48); 5 confirmed deaths, 1 probable.
Randolph – 700 confirmed (up 16), 174 probable (down 1); 125 active cases (down 1); 22 confirmed deaths, 6 probable.
Cross – 623 confirmed (up 6), 92 probable (down 19); 75 active cases (down 3); 22 confirmed deaths, 2 probable.
Clay – 608 confirmed (up 6), 120 probable (up 92); 154 active cases (up 2); 15 confirmed deaths, 3 probable.