COVID-19 in Arkansas

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people around the world, including Arkansans. ACHI will provide updates and insights on this evolving public health crisis.

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Last Updated: March 5, 2021

Due to a considerable reduction in testing related to the recent winter storms, COVID-19 rates by community, school district, and ZIP code will not be posted this week. Upon resumption of testing levels comparable to those prior to the weather event, we will provide updated information.

COVID-19: A Local View

The data in these tables and maps are provided to help inform local decision makers, including policymakers, school personnel and parents, about the impact of COVID-19 in their communities.

A Regional Look at COVID-19 in Arkansas

 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, more localized information is needed to help inform local decision makers about the impact of COVID-19 in their communities. The data in the tables below seek to do this by providing a regional look at new known COVID-19 infection rates, active cases in schools, new hospitalizations, and cumulative deaths. Click here for a printer-friendly version of this report.

About the Data

 

14-Day New Infections per 10K: Based on data from the Arkansas Department of Health, these tables show the rate of new known COVID-19 infections per 10,000 residents over a 14-day period, the percentage of change from the prior week, and the trend across the past five weeks for each of the state’s seven hospital regions. These regions include: Arkansas Valley, Northwest, North Central, Northeast, Metro, Southeast, and Southwest.

Regional-level rates of new known COVID-19 infections are based on the numbers of new known infections in counties within each hospital region and the total populations reported in those counties.Population estimates are from the U.S. Census 2019 American Communities Survey. Rates are color-coded to provide an indication of risk level and are meant to help in making decisions in each region.

A new known infection is defined as a positive test during the measurement period of the prior 14 days. New known infections include confirmed and probable cases. Probable cases are based on verbal reporting and antigen test results, as identified by the Arkansas Department of Health.

Active Cases in Schools: Based on data from the Arkansas Department of Health’s Educational Institutions Report, these tables show the number of active cases among staff, students, and teachers within each region’s school districts, charter schools, and private schools; the percentage of change from the prior report; and the trend across the past five reports. The report lists schools with 5 or more active cases. Positive results include both molecular and antigen tests.

Regional-level active cases are based on numbers of active cases in counties within each hospital region. County designations for school districts and charter schools are based on the Department of Education’s Local Education Agency county codes. For private schools, the associated counties are based on the U.S. Postal Service’s listed address information.

7-Day New Hospitalizations: Based on data from the Arkansas Department of Health, these tables show the number of new hospitalizations over a seven-day period, the percentage of change from the prior week, and the trend across the past five weeks for each hospital region. Regional-level new hospitalizations are based on the numbers of new hospitalizations in counties within each hospital region.

Cumulative Deaths: Based on data from the Arkansas Department of Health, these tables show the cumulative number of deaths from confirmed and probable cases and the increase in deaths from the prior week for each hospital region. Regional-level cumulative deaths are based on the numbers of deaths in counties within each hospital region.

Top New Infections per 10K: Based on data from the Arkansas Department of Health, these tables show the ZIP codes and school districts with the highest rates of new known infections in the local community per 10,000 residents over a 14-day period for each region. ZIP codes with fewer than 10 infections and school districts with fewer than 5 infections are not displayed. For more information, see the COVID-19: Local Data dashboard on this page.

This animation features maps of new known COVID-19 infections for Arkansas school districts each week since August 31, revealing changes over time. A new known infection is defined as a positive test during the measurement period of the previous 14 days. Known infections include confirmed and probable cases among community residents.

COVID-19 Vaccination & Employment

1. Can employers require vaccination for COVID-19?

The general rule is yes. Employers can take a wide range of actions to protect the workplace, including requirements for employees to be vaccinated.

2. What happens if I refuse to be vaccinated?

It depends. Arkansas is an “at will” state when it comes to employment, which means that employers can set working conditions, including mandatory vaccinations. Consequently, the general rule is that employers can terminate an employee or reject an applicant for refusing to be vaccinated. However, there are a couple of exceptions for employers subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If an employee has a medical reason or sincerely held religious belief that prevents him or her from being vaccinated, the employer must offer a reasonable accommodation to continue to work.

3. What does a reasonable accommodation look like?

This will vary depending on the work environment. In an office-based work environment, remote work could be an alternative. Some employers may continue to offer on-site work, but in an isolated location where the threat is reduced or eliminated. Employers do not have to offer accommodation that would present an “undue hardship” to the employer.

4. What if there is no reasonable accommodation?

Under the ADA, an employer may exclude an employee from the workplace if the employee’s presence is a “direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace.” To determine whether a “direct threat” exists, the employer assesses the following four factors: the duration of the risk, the nature and severity of the potential harm, the likelihood that the potential harm will occur, and the imminence of the potential harm. An airborne, highly contagious virus like COVID-19 is likely to meet this test. An employer may exclude an employee from the workplace for refusing to be vaccinated due to a sincerely held religious belief. The employer will assess whether the employee has rights under any other laws prior to taking any additional adverse action.

5. Are employers likely to require vaccination for COVID-19?

Until COVID-19 vaccinations receive full licensure by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (as opposed to the current emergency use authorization status), employers are unlikely to require vaccination. Instead, many are now educating employees about vaccination and strongly encouraging it, and some are offering incentives for vaccination. Some employers such as Trader Joe’s and Dollar General are offering incentive payments or gift cards of varying amounts for vaccination, while others are offering additional leave time or incorporating vaccination into their wellness programs, such as Arkansas’s own Washington Regional Medical Center. Regardless of the type of incentive, employers will need to assess the potential for discriminatory effects associated with the incentive, just as they would a vaccine requirement.

210218A_State Allocated COVID Vaccines IG_as of Feb 26
210218A_Federal Allocated COVID Vaccines IG_as of Feb 26

Video Updates

What Cities and Towns Should Know During the COVID-19 Pandemic

ACHI and the Arkansas Municipal League hosted a video call on March 4, 2021, to discuss what cities, towns, and other state municipalities should know about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Immunology 101 – COVID-19

ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson gives a brief summary of what we know and don’t know about COVID-19 immunity.

As the pandemic continues to unfold, it is important to understand its impact on mortality, or death, rates in the U.S. One way of evaluating this is to estimate the number of excess deaths that have taken place since the beginning of the pandemic.

In a recent installment of our blog series explaining key terms and phrases used by public health officials in discussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, we take a closer look at the term “excess deaths.”

Simply defined, excess deaths are the difference between the observed number of deaths during a specific time frame and expected number of deaths during the same period. ACHI has included excess death data resources below, including an interactive dashboard of excess deaths associated with COVID-19 developed by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We also have included a dashboard of daily deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic by state, developed by the Health Care Cost Institute.

From Our Blog

COVID-19 in Arkansas: A Weekly Snapshot, Jan. 15‒Jan. 21, 2021

On Monday, Jan. 18, Arkansas began moving into phase 1B of the statewide COVID-19 vaccination plan. Read More.

UPDATE: New Infographics Depict Slow COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout in Arkansas

While progress is being made, daily administration of COVID-19 vaccines in Arkansas continues to move at a slow pace. Read More.

COVID-19 in Arkansas: A Weekly Snapshot, Jan. 8‒Jan. 14, 2021

The Trump administration announced major changes to its vaccine distribution plan this week. Read More.

CDC Case Studies

Defining COVID-19 Terms

We have launched a series of blog posts explaining key terms and phrases used by public health officials in discussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Test Sensitivity

In medical testing, sensitivity measures how often a test generates a positive result for people who actually have a certain condition. Read more.

Ventilator

Mechanical ventilators are machines that help to move air in and out of the lungs of patients with severe lung issues. Read More

Asymptomatic Transmission

In relation to COVID-19, an individual who is asymptomatic is infected with the new strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 but does not show symptoms of the disease for the duration of the infection. Read More

Helpful Links and Numbers

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is tracking statewide cases, and more information can be found here, and en espanol.

The CDC posts regular online updates with latest guidelines and information on COVID-19.

ADH: During normal business hours (8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.), urgent and non-urgent calls, please dial 1-800-803-7847 or email ADH.CoronaVirus@arkansas.gov. After normal business hours and weekend calls, needing immediate response, please call 1-800-554-5738.

UAMS: Click here for screening information, including drive-thru screenings and phone screenings. Their COVID-19 Hotline is 1-800-632-4502.

Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH): For children younger than 18 years old, call 1-800-743-3616. Nursing staff will be available for questions and phone screenings 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Click here for more information from ACH.