Demographic comparison for virus infection, hospitalizations and deaths.

The Fay Boozman College of Public Health of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences biweekly report on COVID-19, which a look at demographic factors among those infected with the coronavirus as well as a forecast of future infection and disease, provides a startling fact today: The Marshallese population has a COVID-19 infection rate of more than 30 times that of whites, 26 times the rate of hospitalizations and 48 times that the rate of deaths.

The college’s short-term forecast of COVID-19 has been fairly accurate: For example, the death toll, which stands at 1,003 today, will rise by more than 100, to 1,108, by Sept. 21, according to the model. The model forecasts a cumulative caseload in Arkansas of 80,917 and 4,852 hospitalizations by Sept. 21. Those numbers today: 70,125 confirmed cases and 4,802 hospitalizations. 

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The population of Arkansas with the highest rate of infection will be ages 18-59, making up 70 percent of the cases, and children under 17 have the third-highest number of cases. The population with the most hospitalizations will be ages 35-59, or, as College of Public Health Dean Mark Williams notes in a video accompanying the report as an illustration of COVID-19’s impact on the economy, people of working age. The rate of hospitalization of children remains low, Williams said, but “is not insignificant.”

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The median age of persons who have succumbed to the disease is 75. Deaths and hospitalizations were highest among those with kidney disease.

Only four counties had a rate of change greater than 100 percent: Newton, Washington and Madison, which are contiguous and which Williams connected to increased testing and cases at UA Fayetteville, and Cross.

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The mid-term forecast for cumulative cases is 121,062 and 2,088 deaths by Oct. 31, but the accuracy of forecasting diminishes with time. The long-term forecast, for example, forecasts 83,000 active infections at that time, an exponential increase over today’s 5,703. The long-term forecast continues to put the pandemic peak in late December.

In the video, Williams compares the rate of coronavirus transmission (Ro) in Arkansas to that of influenza: The coronavirus rate is almost 1 to 1.9, or almost two people for every one person infected; the flu’s transmission rate is 1 to 1.09.

How an epidemic begins.