The Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health’s bi-weekly COVID-19 modeling report today reports what Associate Dean Ben Amick called a “tepid” acceptance of vaccination among Arkansans. The poll, conducted using a random digit dial tool, scored the overall attitude toward a COVID-19 vaccine at “slightly better than agree or disagree” when it comes to beliefs about safety, efficacy, value and the legitimacy of authorities to require vaccination and vaccine acceptance. The willingness to wear a mask and otherwise follow health guidelines correlates closely with acceptance of vaccine, not surprisingly. Black respondents were the least likely to accept the vaccine, the report said, which “suggests the state should make special efforts to understand how Blacks perceive the acceptability of vaccines differently from Whites and Hispanics, and develop communication and distribution programs accordingly.
The report, which is dated Nov. 6, projected:
- 112,101 cumulative confirmed COVID-19 cases by Nov. 16; that number jumps to 121,627 when probable cases are added in. Today’s cumulative confirmed is 112,736 and with probable added in is 124,235, so cases are rising faster than modeling has predicted.
- 7,893 cumulative hospitalizations by Nov. 16, and 2,627 cumulative intensive care patients by Nov. 16. Cumulative hospitalizations as of Nov. 10: 7,579.
- 2,202 deaths by Nov. 16, an increase of 357 or 16% over deaths reported Nov. 1. The death toll as of Nov. 10: 2,112.
- Adults 35-59 will have the highest number of cases in the two weeks leading up to Nov. 16, and young adults 18-34 the second highest. Together, they will make up 68 percent of all active COVID-19 cases in Arkansas.
The report said a “plausible reason” for the rise in the number of cases that Arkansas has seen in the past several weeks is “that portions of the community do not see themselves at high risk of infection and are behaving accordingly.” Pandemic fatigue is also a plausible reason, the report said. A mid-term forecast says that by the end of December, Arkansas will have added about 50,000 cases to the number reported Oct. 31.
The report included this time a mid-term forecast for hospitalizations: By Dec. 31, hospitalizations are forecast to have reached 9,537 cumulatively, or 2,443 over Nov. 1. Rural hospitals will likely be the most negatively impacted, Amick said in a video accompanying the report.
Long-term modeling projects a peak in COVID-19 cases at the end of March or beginning of April, with 35,718 active infections. The long-term model is the least accurate, the COPH always reminds readers.
“Arkansas, like the rest of the United States … is entering a dangerous period in this pandemic,” Amick said.