With October just around the corner, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance on Monday, Sept. 21, advising against trick-or-treating and crowded indoor parties this Halloween, stating that celebrations “will likely need to be different this fall to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.” See details on our blog.
During his weekly COVID-19 update on Tuesday, Sept. 22, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced five winter strategies for fighting COVID-19. One strategy is increasing flu shot participation, to prevent the combination of flu and COVID-19 from overwhelming hospitals. Arkansans can receive flu shots free of charge at walk-in flu clinics at local health units across the state.
The other strategies the governor announced are:
- Perform one million COVID-19 tests by Oct. 20.
- Increase consistency of state contact tracing.
- Emphasize continued wearing of masks and social distancing.
- Do not grow weary.
Also during the governor’s update, state Secretary of Education Johnny Key reported that 106 schools have modified operations since the start of the school year because of COVID-19 cases. Of those, 83 schools have moved back to normal operations. This week, schools continued to make changes to their modes of instruction due to COVID cases. Parkview Magnet High School in Little Rock notified students and families of a shift to virtual instruction from Thursday, Sept. 24, through at least Sunday, Sept. 27. Farmington High School also moved to virtual instruction on Friday, Sept. 25.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health’s Educational Institutions Report released on Thursday, Sept. 24, there are 742 active cases among staff members, students, and teachers in the state’s public school districts. Total positive cases increased by 479 since the Monday, Sept. 21, report to 4,116, of which 3,054 are student cases. At colleges and universities, there are 604 active cases. The three institutions with the highest numbers of active cases are:
- University of Arkansas in Fayetteville with 179 cases
- University of Central Arkansas in Conway with 64 cases
- Arkansas Tech University in Russellville with 46 cases
Total positive cases increased by 445 since the Monday report to 3,777 cases. Of these, 3,034 are student cases.
Similar to last week, some schools made changes to their football schedules due to positive COVID-19 cases this week. At the high school level, Rogers announced the cancellation of two conference football games: Fort Smith Southside on Friday, Sept. 25, and Fayetteville on Oct. 2. Arkansas State University canceled its Saturday, Sept. 26, home game against the University of Tulsa but plans to be ready for the Oct. 3 game at Coastal Carolina.
On our COVID-19 in Arkansas page this week, we updated all the data in the COVID-19: Local Data dashboard and adjusted the school district case counts to not include cases from human development centers. Some key data points:
By School District
There are seven school districts in the red zone this week as of Monday, up from two last week. One of the districts, Buffalo Island Central, was in the red zone in the prior week. School districts in the red zone have 50 or more new cases per 10,000 residents in the community during a 14-day period. These districts are:
- Deer/Mt. Judea: 117 new cases per 10K residents
- Buffalo Island Central: 64 new cases per 10K residents
- Pine Bluff: 58 new cases per 10K residents
- Dollarway: 56 new cases per 10K residents
- Mammoth Spring: 55 new cases per 10K residents
- Prescott: 52 new cases per 10K residents
- Clarendon: 50 new cases per 10K residents
Two school districts in the red-zone have high school football games scheduled tonight: Clarendon and Dollarway.
The 10 communities with the highest new case rates per 10,000 residents as of Sept. 21:
- Mount Judea: 317 new cases per 10K residents
- Monette: 96 new cases per 10K residents
- Holly Grove: 95 new cases per 10K residents
- Everton: 81 new cases per 10K residents
- Jasper: 64 new cases per 10K residents
- Mammoth Spring: 62 new cases per 10K residents
- Prescott: 61 new cases per 10K residents
- Berryville: 50 new cases per 10K residents
- White Hall: 49 new cases per 10K residents
- Rison: 49 new cases per 10K residents
By Zip Code
The five zip codes with the highest rates of new cases as of Sept. 21:
- 72655: 317 new cases per 10K residents
- 72447: 97 new cases per 10K residents
- 72069: 96 new cases per 10K residents
- 72633: 82 new cases per 10K residents
- 72641: 65 new cases per 10K residents