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.
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.”
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.
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.