It took 11 days, but an FOIA to the Arkansas Department of Health on regional hospital capacity has finally been provided to the Arkansas Times. (The holdup, the Times was told, was because its legal department was swamped. Maybe what was keeping it so busy was having to answer FOIAs from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for emails that would shed light on why the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and ADH were dragging their feet on providing COVID-19 spread modeling. Turns out ADH and UAMS were running requests for public information by Governor Hutchinson before responding to the public, a violation of the FOIA.)
As of June 22, hospitals in the health department’s Northwest Arkansas, where there has been a significant increase in numbers linked to the poultry industry, and Metro regions were tied for the highest number of COVID-19 admissions (81). Northwest had 42 patients in the region’s ICUs; Metro had 36. (A week earlier, the Northwest region had 55 patients in its ICUs and Metro 30). The June 22 numbers show Northwest had an additional 8 “suspected” COVID-19 admissions; Metro 29. There are 38 unoccupied ICU beds in Northwest regional hospitals and 58 in Metro regional hospitals. A total number by region for ICU beds was unavailable at press time.
Counties included in Northwest include Benton (741 active cases as of yesterday), Washington (1,040), Carroll (60), Madison (77), Newton (1) and Boone (6). Metro includes Conway (13), Perry (6), Faulkner (152), Pulaski (344), Saline (36) and Lonoke (21) counties.
There are 267 people hospitalized for COVID-19, the ADH reported at today’s press update by Governor Hutchinson and Health Department Director Dr. Nate Smith. That’s an increase of 19 since yesterday’s report. The modeling data that UAMS’ College of Public Health’s Dean Mark Williams was loath to provide to the public projects a need for 3,750 COVID-19 beds at the first of October. (The three-month-out data was first provided to the Times on June 15; Williams also granted the Times two interviews to explain the role of modeling and assist in interpreting the data.)
According to the health department, hospitals say their preparations for a surge in cases — which began in March when huge numbers of COVID-19 were predicted for April — will provide an additional 7,733 beds to the state’s total of 8,917. That breaks down to 1,374 in the Arkansas Valley region, 1,962 in Metro, 727 in North Central, 1,299 in Northeast, 1,133 in Northwest, 312 in Southeast and 926 in Southwest for the predicted surge.
As of June 22, the Northeast region has 24 suspected COVID-19 admissions and 23 positive, with 19 in ICU; Arkansas Valley has 20 suspected COVID-19 admissions and 22 positives, with 5 in ICU.
Counties included in the Northeast region are Randolph (9 active cases), Clay (35), Greene (29), Lawrence (10), Craighead (54), Mississippi (28), Poinsett (6), Cross (10), Crittenden (96), St. Francis (21), Lee (498, linked to the outbreak at the correctional facility at Brickeys), Prairie (11), Monroe (2) and Phillips (52).
The Arkansas Valley region includes Crawford, Sebastian, Polk, Franklin, Johnson, Pope, Logan, Yell and Scott counties. North Central includes Marion, Baxter, Fulton, Sharp, Searcy, Van Buren, Stone, Izard, Independence, Jackson, Woodruff, White and Cleburne counties. Southeast includes Grant, Jefferson, Arkansas, Cleveland, Lincoln, Desha, Bradley, Drew, Chicot and Ashley counties. Southwest includes Montgomery, Garland, Pike, Hot Spring, Clark, Dallas, Howard, Sevier, Little Rock, Hempstead, Nevada, Ouachita, Calhoun, Miller, Lafayette and Union counties.