COVID-19

The biweekly forecast of future coronavirus infections and COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ College of Public Health is now predicting active cases will peak Feb. 22. That prediction, based on a long-term model, is based on a slowing of the rate of infection.

The report also includes the results of a “random digit dial” phone survey of Arkansans showing that more than one in three residents in the central public health region of the state agreed that schools should be open. One in four Arkansans has felt isolated in the past couple of weeks, which college Dean Dr. Mark Williams called a “real health problem.”

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The short-term forecast, based on the most recent figures and unchanging conditions, is always the most accurate. It predicts that by Oct. 5, 86,118 Arkansans will have tested positive for coronavirus (today’s total is 80,003); cumulative hospitalizations will reach 6,114 (5,354 today); and the death toll will be 1,375 (1,204 today). The report is using PCR-test confirmed data only, not antigen test data.

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The report also compares data on health outcomes between rural and urban residents, numbers that indicate older adults living in rural areas with less immediate access to health care are more likely to die once they’ve contracted COVID-19.

The long-term model (eSIR), which because conditions in the future are difficult to know is less accurate than short- mid-term projections, forecasts 1,401 hospitalized on Feb. 22, 490 of whom will be in intensive care and 171 on ventilators. A graphic accompanying the long-term data shows fewer than 250 hospitalizations by the end of August 2021.

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More from the Arkansas Pandemic Poll:

  • The central and northwest public health regions (of the Arkansas Department of Health) had the highest percentage of respondents believing that masks help slow the spread of the virus, at 70 percent each. The northeast region had the lowest, 57 percent; the southeast was slightly higher at 60 percent. However, the percentage of those polled who said they wear a mask in public is significantly higher: 96 percent in the central region, 93 percent in northwest, 92 percent in southeast and 86 percent in northeast. (The northeast region has the highest growth rate in cases for the past week, according to a report by Governor Hutchinson today.)
  • In all regions, fewer than half of respondents felt safe when shopping in stores or eating in restaurants across the board, and fewer than half agreed that schools should be open or that people should gather in large numbers. Regarding the numbers agreeing that schools should be open, the northeast region had the highest percentage of respondents, at 49 percent, and the central region the lowest, at 37 percent.