College of Public Health Dean Mark Williams

The University of Arkansas for Medical Science’s Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health released a new short-term forecast today, one that predicts 543 Arkansans will have succumbed to COVID-19 by Aug. 15. The death toll today stands at 490.

The models also predict 3,686 Arkansans in all will have been hospitalized, 1,285 of them requiring an ICU bed, by Aug. 15. As of today, 3,054 Arkansans have been hospitalized. A cumulative total of ICU patients is unavailable.

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The report also looks at county caseloads and the pandemic’s effect by ethnicity, gender and rural and urban residence.

In a video introduction, College of Public Health Dean Mark Williams notes the difficulty in creating a model for how COVID-19 might affect children, given the small numbers. However, with school approaching, he said it is important to see the exponential rise in the rate of infections and hospitalizations in the under 20 age group: From 1.5 cases per 10,000 from March 11-April 27, to 20.2 per 10,000  from April 28-June 14, to 81.4 per 10,000 from June 15-July 28. There have been no deaths in that age group.

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The college did not provide long-term forecasts. Those models are being adjusted with new research on how the virus spreads — including data that shows that there may be as many as 10 to 20 times the number of asymptomatic cases and studies that have found a much higher viral load than suspected in pediatric cases — and the masking mandate, and will be presented Aug. 18.

The forecasts are not solid predictions of what will happen, Williams has said, but meant to provide reference points for policy makers.

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