Effective this week as of Jan. 4, COVID-19 numbers in Van Buren County show a continued overall decline in COVID-19 infections compared to recent weeks. At issue, however, is the numbers possibly reflecting lower testing rates over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

During that same period the state of Arkansas set an all-time high for single-day case numbers, as well as high numbers for hospitalizations and death by the virus.

Currently, Van Buren County is shown at 5.50 infections per 1,000, down from last week’s 6.41 number and the previous week’s 9.37, both ahead of the late November 3.2 per 1,000 score.

The county is among the lowest in the North Central regions, with only Marion County scoring lower at 4.49 per 1,000. The region itself scores 7.93 per 1,000, lower than the adjoining Central region which contains neighboring Faulkner and Conway counties, that region at 8.22 per 1,000. Faulkner and Conway counties are 8.60 and (a surprisingly large) 13.10, respectively.

The region’s 7.93 score is slightly higher than last week’s 7.01 and lower than the week prior to that of 7.94 per 1,000.

Other neighboring counties are Cleburne, at 9.55, Stone, at 6.16 and Searcy at 6.85. Again, some fluidity in number is expected due to testing gaps over the holidays.

The county currently has 91 active cases, down from last week’s 106 and the previous week’s 155 case numbers. On Jan. 2 the county had 95 cases, the most recent peak, still far below the 163 total cases of Dec. 19. The previous spike was Nov. 28 with 83 cases.

Arkansas has 233,475 cases, up from last week’s 214,877, against 205,462 recoveries.

The new year began with a new record, of 4,304 cases state wide for that single day. The high number had previously been held for Dec. 24 with 3,204 single-day cases. Other than Jan. 1, all the top 10 highest-per-day case numbers since the pandemic’s beginning have been in December.

The highest single day for deaths in the state was Dec. 29 where 66 deaths were recorded. Effective Jan. 3 the seven-day rolling average for deaths is 38.1, reflecting a drop off after Jan. 3.

State and national resources continue to predict infection rates rising in the early months of 2021.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Department of Health head Jose Romero continue to emphasize the importance of masks, hand washing and maintaining social distance in combating the spread of the disease.

Updates may be found at healthy.arkansas.gov, ACHI.net/covid19 and the independent arkansascovid.com web sites.

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