For Immediate Release
Aug. 5, 2021
NUMBER OF ARKANSAS SCHOOL DISTRICTS WITH 50-PLUS COVID-19 INFECTIONS PER 10K RESIDENTS GROWS FROM 100 TO 140
LITTLE ROCK ― One hundred forty Arkansas school districts have COVID-19 infection rates of 50 or more new known infections per 10,000 district residents over a 14-day period, up from 100 a week earlier, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement said Thursday. The information is based on Arkansas Department of Health data obtained Monday.
Of those 140 districts, 16 have 14-day COVID-19 infection rates of 100 or more new known infections per 10,000 district residents, or more than 1% of residents, up from 12 a week earlier.
The local-level COVID-19 data can be found on ACHI’s COVID-19 in Arkansas web page at achi.net/covid19. On ACHI’s map of Arkansas school districts, a district with 50 to 99 new known infections per 10,000 residents is shaded red, and a district with 100 or more new known infections per 10,000 residents is shaded purple.
ACHI temporarily paused its reporting of local COVID-19 data in February, because low testing rates made it impossible to provide accurate data, but resumed its reporting last week. Although testing has increased, it is still low, which means that infections are underrepresented.
A bill filed in the Arkansas House on Wednesday proposes to amend the state’s ban on mask mandates to allow school boards to require masks in school districts with 14-day infection rates of 50 or more new known infections per 10,000 district residents ― the red and purple districts on ACHI’s map. ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson said the bill would be preferable to legislative inaction, but the proposed threshold is too high.
“No school district should be legally barred from protecting Arkansas children from harm,” Thompson said Thursday. “However, politically, if a trigger is necessary to reverse the legislative ban, I believe it should be no higher than 30 new known infections per 10,000 residents over 14 days ― which appears as orange on ACHI’s map. If the Legislature takes no action and allows the ban on mask mandates to remain in effect in all schools while the Delta variant rages in our communities, children will be avoidably exposed to the virus, some will be hospitalized, and likely some will die.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal masking, social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and ventilation in all U.S. schools.
Thompson also explained how ACHI arrived at its system for classifying community infection rates.
“Many people have asked why our classification system is different from the one used by the CDC, which classifies 100 or more new known infections per 100,000 county residents over a seven-day period as a high rate of community transmission and 50 or more infections per 100,000 residents as a substantial rate of infection,” he said. “When we created our approach last year, we modeled it after one used by the Minnesota health and education departments because that state, like Arkansas, is mostly rural, whereas the CDC applies its system across all states, including ones with dense population areas like New York.”
Thompson said ACHI’s system also allows the tracking of trends. The use of a 14-day rather than a seven-day time period allows more stable observation of trends over time, he said.
“It would not be possible to show trends over time in Arkansas using the CDC’s classification system, because Arkansas would be all in red week after week,” he said.
The school-district infection numbers reported by ACHI refer to infections among community residents living within the geographical boundaries of the school districts and are not specific to 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.
Infection rates and counts are not shown 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.
As of Monday, the following 140 school districts had a rate of at least 50 new known infections per 10,000 district residents over the previous 14 days. An asterisk indicates that a district is new to the list this week.
|o Barton-Lexa – rate of 100 or more new known infections per 10K residents
|o Brookland – rate of 100 or more new known infections per 10K residents
|o Caddo Hills*
|o Calico Rock
|o Cave City
|o Cedar Ridge
|o Cleveland County
|o Cotter – rate of 100 or more new known infections per 10K residents
|o Cross County*
|o Cutter-Morning Star – rate of 100 or more new known infections per 10K residents
|o Deer-Mt. Judea – rate of 100 or more new known infections per 10K residents
|o Des Arc*
|o East End – rate of 100 or more new known infections per 10K residents
|o Fort Smith*
|o Fountain Lake
|o Glen Rose*
|o Green Forest
|o Greene County Tech
|o Harmony Grove (Saline County)
|o Heber Springs – rate of 100 or more new known infections per 10K residents
|o Helena-West Helena
|o Hot Springs*
|o Izard County Consolidated
|o Lake Hamilton
|o Lead Hill
|o Little Rock
|o Magnet Cove*
|o Malvern – rate of 100 or more new known infections per 10K residents
|o Mammoth Spring
|o Marked Tree*
|o Marvell – rate of 100 or more new known infections per 10K residents
|o Midland – rate of 100 or more new known infections per 10K residents
|o Mount Ida*
|o Mountain Home – rate of 100 or more new known infections per 10K residents
|o Mountain Pine – rate of 100 or more new known infections per 10K residents
|o Mountain View
|o Mt. Vernon-Enola
|o North Little Rock
|o Ozark Mountain
|o Pea Ridge*
|o Perryville – rate of 100 or more new known infections per 10K residents
|o Pine Bluff
|o Prairie Grove*
|o Pulaski County Special
|o Rose Bud – rate of 100 or more new known infections per 10K residents
|o Searcy County – rate of 100 or more new known infections per 10K residents
|o Siloam Springs
|o South Conway County*
|o South Pike County*
|o South Side
|o Star City*
|o Two Rivers
|o Valley Springs
|o Valley View
|o West Fork*
|o Westside Consolidated
|o White County Central
|o White Hall
|o Yellville-Summit – rate of 100 or more new known infections per 10K residents
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.