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Arkansas’ covid trends continue downward as state marks 18th straight day with few hospitalizations

A day after falling below 1,000 for the first time in more than a month, the number of covid-19 patients in Arkansas hospitals kept plummeting on Friday as the state’s new case numbers also continued to decline.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Health was notified Friday of the state’s fourth coronavirus case caused by the omicron subvariant BA.2, a department spokeswoman said.

Arkansas’ death toll from covid-19, as tracked by the Health Department, rose Friday by 36, to 10,271.

The state’s total count of cases rose Friday by 1,279, an increase that was larger by 130 than the one a day earlier but smaller by 668 than the one the previous Friday.

With recoveries and deaths outpacing new infections, the number of cases in the state that were considered active fell by 70, to 12,414.

BA.2 is sometimes called “stealth omicron” because of a genetic difference that makes it harder to track than the original strain, known as BA.1. The state’s first case of covid-19 caused by the subvariant was reported to the Health Department on Jan. 31.

Three more were reported this week, including one on Monday and one Wednesday.

The latest case, reported Friday, was identified through sequencing conducted by the molecular diagnostics laboratory at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Medical Center in Little Rock.

In a report Tuesday, the World Health Organization said BA.2 appears to spread faster than BA.1 but didn’t appear to be significantly better at evading the protection afforded by vaccines or immunity from previous infections.

It said no evidence suggested BA.2 causes severe illness more often than BA. 1.

The study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, also found evidence that that BA.2 is resistant to sotrovimab, the monoclonal antibody used to treat omicron infections in people at high risk of severe covid-19 illness.

The Health Department’s tally of vaccine doses that had been administered rose Friday by 2,925, which was smaller by 195 than the daily increase a week earlier.

Booster shots made up 26% of the most recent increase.

Nationally, 76.1% of people had received at least one dose, and 64.6% were fully vaccinated.

Of the fully vaccinated population nationally, 43.1% had received a booster dose.

See the full article from the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette here.

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