For Immediate Release
Feb. 24, 2022
ACHI MAP FOR NEW KNOWN COVID-19 INFECTIONS REFLECTS DROP IN TRANSMISSION; REDUCED TESTING, AT-HOME TESTS THREATEN ACCURACY
LITTLE ROCK ― The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement said Thursday that although the state continues to experience reduced COVID-19 transmission, and reported new cases in school districts reflect this reduction, low testing rates combined with increased at-home testing threaten the accuracy of reporting on new infections at the school district level.
ACHI said that because of its concerns about accuracy, it anticipates being unable to provide school district-level information on new infections after this week.
“Because of the prevalence of at-home testing that largely is not reported to the Arkansas Department of Health or reflected in our report, and because recent reported laboratory confirmed test rates continue to drop, the numbers displayed on ACHI’s COVID-19 dashboard underrepresent actual infections and, therefore, the risk in each community,” said ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson. “For the immediate future, I recommend that school leaders and school board members additionally consider county-level information ― which is likely to be more meaningful than school district-level information at this point because of larger population counts ― to inform their policy decisions.”
ACHI plans to continue reporting county-level information, in the short term, on its COVID-19 dashboard, available at achi.net/covid19.
This week, 15 of Arkansas’s 234 contiguous public school districts have COVID-19 infection rates of 50 or more new known infections per 10,000 district residents over a 14-day period, down from 97 last week, ACHI said, citing its analysis of Arkansas Department of Health data current as of Monday.
ACHI’s update of the school districts map on its COVID-19 dashboard shows that 15 districts are shaded red to signify 14-day infection rates of 50 to 99 new known infections per 10,000 residents. No district is shaded purple to signify a 14-day infection rate of 100 to 199 new known infections per 10,000 residents, or at least 1% of the local population, down from three last week.
For the second week in a row, no district is shaded pink for a 14-day infection rate of 200 or more new known infections per 10,000 residents, or at least 2% of the local population.
ACHI also updated vaccination rates on its dashboard, using Department of Health data current as of Monday. Twenty-six school districts have achieved vaccination rates of at least 50% of district residents, and of those, two have achieved vaccination rates of 60% or more: Bentonville at 62% and Eureka Springs at 60%. The Department of Health’s vaccinations counts include people who have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine; they do not take into account whether people have received booster shots, which are required for maximum protection against the omicron variant.
Districts with 14-day COVID-19 infection rates of 50 or more new known infections per 10,000 district residents are as follows:
o Cave City
o Cedar Ridge
o East Poinsett County
o Harmony Grove (Clark, Dallas, and Ouachita Counties)
o Heber Springs
o Izard County Consolidated
o Marked Tree
o Mountain View
o South Conway County
o Star City
The infection rates reported by ACHI are based on infections among community residents living within the geographical boundaries of each school district and not only on cases among school employees and students.
Known infections include confirmed and probable cases. Probable cases are based on verbal reporting and antigen test results, as identified by the Department of Health. Reported rates do not include complete results from at-home testing, thus the true level of infections is likely higher than that reported.
Infection rates and counts are not reported for districts with fewer than five reported infections to reduce the possibility of identifying individuals. School district counts do not include infections among incarcerated populations, in nursing homes, or in human development centers.
ACHI is a nonpartisan, independent health policy center that serves as a catalyst for improving the health of all Arkansans through evidence-based research, public issue advocacy, and collaborative program development.