Following the state-wide trend, COVID-19 infection numbers in Van Buren County continue to climb as the Delta variant of the virus spreads. The Delta variant is a mutation of the original COVID-19 virus.

David Deaton, CEO Ozark Health: “During the first week of July, COVID-19 related cases accounted for roughly 14 percent of emergency department visits, a significant increase over June levels. However, COVID-19 inpatient hospital admissions remain at June levels. COVID-19 testing volume has increased dramatically from previous months, with the positivity rate more than doubling to 21 percent. The rate of monoclonal antibody treatments has quadrupled as compared to June. There are no new COVID-19 cases in the nursing home to report.”

Late last week Arkansas began to record new cases of infection at just over 1,000 per day rate, with 1,200 on Thursday and 1,155 on Friday. (Per-day rates are not recorded on weekends.) This was after months in the low 200 rate of per-day infections beginning in March.

Van Buren County has followed the same trend, moving from zero-to-three per day beginning in March to averaging five-to-six new cases per day beginning in June. The Arkansans Department of Health currently shows the county with 41 active cases of COVID-19 infection, against a total of 1,425 cases since pandemic tracking began.

Van Buren County still remains below more urban areas, with, for example, Faulkner County to its south with currently 342 active cases against a total of 13,452 cases.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Department of Health head Dr. Jose Romero have both cited people not getting vaccinated as a factor in the virus’s growth rate. Arkansas currently has a vaccination rate of 39 percent of its population. Van Buren County lags behind this, with 33 percent of its population vaccinated. Nationally, a 48 percent of population number is held, representing 334 million vaccine doses, against a goal of 70 percent required for herd immunity.

Arkansas has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation, with the US Virgin Islands, Mississippi and Alabama being the lowest percent-population vaccinated at just over 33 percent. Vermont is the highest, with 66 percent of its population vaccinated.

The national Center for Disease Control has ranked Van Buren County and its surrounding counties as “High” for Level of Community Transmission, its highest ranking.

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