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.
Last Updated: December 4, 2020
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.
Click button above for a synopsis of key data points.
This slideshow features maps of new known COVID-19 infections for Arkansas school districts each week since July, 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.
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.
On Oct. 5, the CDC posted a report on a COVID-19 outbreak at a family gathering that took place over three weeks in June and July. The CDC and the health departments of Rhode Island, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Cook County, Ill., investigated and found that the suspected primary patient was a teen who had been exposed to the virus. Among 14 people who stayed in the same house with the teen, 11 developed COVID-19. Among six who visited the house but did not stay overnight, remained outdoors, and maintained physical distance, there were no known infections.
Dr. Joe Thompson, president and CEO of ACHI, provides a public service announcement regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Recorded June 24.
Actualizaciones de Covid-19 de ACHI en español
Drs. Joe Thompson y Eduardo Ochoa brindan una actualización sobre COVID-19
From Our Blog
While the holidays bring joy and thanksgiving, we have documented transmission events that occurred at family gatherings and celebratory events. The ACHI Health Policy Board offers the following prevention strategies based upon logical application of the best available science. Read More.
On July 14, the CDC posted a report on a hair salon in Springfield, Mo., where two stylists served a total of 139 clients between developing respiratory symptoms and testing positive for COVID-19. All involved wore face coverings, and no clients were known to be infected. The report shows how effective face coverings can be in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
What Cities and Towns Should Know During the COVID-19 Pandemic
ACHI and the Arkansas Municipal League hosted a video call on November 13, 2020, to discuss what cities, towns, and other state municipalities should know about the COVID-19 pandemic.
This video provides a quick glance at the immune system as it attempts to fight off the coronavirus.
ACHI BOARD PROPOSES FIVE COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS FOR EMPLOYERS
Recommendations Include Mask Requirement in Shared Spaces
The ACHI Health Policy Board’s position is that employers have an obligation to help achieve control of the COVID-19 pandemic, protect individuals, and minimize economic hardships in the state. All entities subject to the Arkansas Department of Health’s public health directives — including business-specific directives such as those for gyms, bars, and restaurants and general directives such as those for all businesses, manufacturers, and construction companies — should comply with those directives at a minimum. In addition, all public, private, and nonprofit entities that are not otherwise subject to a business-specific directive should adopt the following additional reasonable precautions in an effort to protect themselves from potential liability and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 from customers and visitors to others including their own employees:
- Require employees, customers, and visitors to wear face coverings in shared spaces while inside;
- Screen all employees for potential COVID-19 exposure and symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell as they are entering the facility at the beginning of work;
- Make verbal announcements and post signage including signs for non-English speakers that encourage proper face covering placement, hand hygiene, and coughing and sneezing etiquette;
- Establish and make available to the public written COVID-19 protocols for protection of employees, customers, and visitors; and
- Regularly monitor and assess compliance for necessary changes to existing practices based on available peer-reviewed evidence and public health guidance.
Testing Types, Recent Developments, and Policy Considerations
An important element of the response to the global COVID-19 pandemic is the development and implementation of testing. Our new explainer provides information on the types of testing used to identify COVID-19, recent testing developments, and policy considerations.
- Testing for COVID-19 can be grouped into two categories: molecular tests, to determine whether an individual is currently infected, and serological tests, to determine whether an individual is currently or has previously been infected. Serological tests can also sometimes determine whether an individual is immune.
- To promote rapid expansion of testing capacity, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given states permission to develop and use tests that have not been submitted to or approved by the agency.
- The FDA also has given commercial test developers permission to market molecular tests without FDA authorization and has issued emergency use authorizations for a few serological tests.
- Initially, the Arkansas Department of Health limited testing to Arkansans with possible high-risk exposure to COVID-19, but on April 15, 2020, the department relaxed testing criteria to include individuals with COVID-19 symptoms, if a provider has adequate testing supplies.
- Progress has been made in expanding testing capability in Arkansas, but to date, testing in the state is still inadequate to determine how many Arkansans are infected with the virus.
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.
On May 19, the CDC posted a report on a COVID-19 outbreak that occurred among members of an Arkansas church in March. At least 35 of 92 people who attended church gatherings with two symptomatic people acquired the illness, and three of them died. The church gatherings also were linked to 26 additional cases in the community, including one death.
On May 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted a report on a COVID-19 outbreak in Washington state. Among people who attended a March choir practice with one infected person, 87% developed the illness, according to the report.
ARKANSAS DECISION POINTS FOR REOPENING
Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Department of Health have made a series of announcements regarding the lifting of some restrictions and guidelines intended to slow the spread of COVID-19. The White House has provided guidelines for the phased reopening of states, although states are not bound by them.
Reopening decisions announced to date include:
- Certain restrictions lifted on elective medical procedures, effective April 27.
- Resumption of elective dental services, with restrictions, effective May 11.
- Resumption of overnight camping at state parks, with restrictions, effective May 1.
- Reopening of certain facilities at state parks, including visitor centers, gift shops, golf pro shops, restaurants, museums, marinas, equipment rental shops, cabins, and lodges, effective May 15.
- Resumption of limited dine-in operations at restaurants, effective May 11.
- Resumption of limited activities at gyms and fitness centers, effective May 4.
- Resumption of limited in-person operations at barber shops, body art establishments, body art schools, cosmetology establishments, massage therapy clinics/spas, and medical spas, effective May 6.
- Reopening of large outdoor venues for limited activities, effective May 4.
- Relaxed guidance issued for places of worship, effective May 4.
- Reopening of large indoor venues for limited activities, effective May 18.
- Reopening of casinos for limited operations, effective May 18.
- Further lifting of restrictions on elective medical procedures, effective May 11.
- Reopening of recreational pools for limited activities, effective May 22.
- Reopening of bars inside restaurants for limited operations, effective May 19.
- Reopening of freestanding bars for limited operations, effective May 26.
- Permission for summer camps to operate, with restrictions, effective May 21.
- Restrictions on elective medical procedures loosened a third time, effective May 25.
- Permission for some community- and school-sponsored team sports to operate, with restrictions, effective June 1.
- Further lifting of restrictions on elective dental services, effective June 15 and revised June 22.
- Further lifting of restrictions on large outdoor venues, effective June 15.
- Further lifting of restrictions on large indoor venues, effective June 15.
- Further lifting of restrictions on barber shops, body art establishments, body art schools, cosmetology establishments, massage therapy clinics/spas, and medical spas, effective June 15.
- Further lifting of restrictions on bars and clubs, effective June 15.
- Further lifting of restrictions on restaurant dine-in operations, effective June 15.
- Loosening of restrictions applicable to all businesses, effective June 15.
- Further lifting of restrictions on gyms and fitness centers, effective June 15.
- Further lifting of restrictions on casinos, effective June 15.
- Requirement for testing in advance of elective medical procedures rescinded, effective Aug. 1.
- Community- and school-sponsored music and theater allowed, with restrictions, effective Aug. 5.
- Additional community- and school-sponsored team sports allowed, with restrictions, effective Aug. 21.
- Further lifting of restrictions on restaurant dine-in operations, effective Sept. 9.
- Loosening of restrictions on visitation at long-term care facilities, effective Oct. 6.
Helpful Links and Numbers:
The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is tracking statewide cases, and more information can be found here.
The White House has issued guidelines for slowing the spread of COVID-19.
The CDC posts regular online updates with latest guidelines and information on COVID-19.
COVID-19 Hotlines and Screening Information:
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.