LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA / KFTA) – Arkansas Center for Health Improvement urges families at risk to take shelter, mask themselves in all school districts, virtual for some as 97% of districts are said to have infection rates high with COVID-19.
A record 226 public districts in the state’s 234 contiguous districts have COVID-19 infection rates of 50 or more known new infections per 10,000 district residents over a 14-day period, ACHI said on Monday. January 10.
ACHI made a special update to the COVID dashboard on its website, to show the accelerated spread of the virus. Pink was a newly added color to the maps, to signify an infection rate of 200 or more known new infections per 10,000 people in the district in the past 14 days, or at least 2% of the district’s population, according to the Press release.
Of the 226 districts with 14-day infection rates of 50 or more known new infections per 10,000 population, 61 districts have 50 to 99 known new infections per 10,000 population (red on ACHI map); 110 districts have 100 to 199 new known infections per 10,000 population (purple); and 55 districts have 200 or more known new infections per 10,000 population (pink).
In some neighborhoods, more than 4% of the inhabitants of the local community are known to be infected.
“Due to the highly infectious variant of omicron, COVID-19 is raging uncontrollably in our state,” said ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson. “Unfortunately, we have to experience temporary disruptions in our daily lives in order to be able to stop the spread of the virus. “
In the face of the immediate threat posed by the omicron variant in communities in Arkansas, ACHI calls for the following short-term actions:
- implementing masking requirements for all staff and students in all schools across the state;
- virtual instruction for schools in purple and pink areas;
- providing shelter in place for the elderly, families with unvaccinated children and families whose members are immunocompromised or at risk due to health problems such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes or cancer; and
- suspension of public interactions or implementation of virtual options when possible on the part of municipalities, businesses and places of worship.
According to the release, the infection rates reported by ACHI are based on infections among community residents living within the geographic boundaries of each school district and not just cases among school employees and students.
Rates and numbers of infections are not reported for districts with less than five infections reported to reduce the possibility of identifying individuals. School district counts do not include infections among incarcerated populations, nursing homes, or human development centers.
Known infections include confirmed and probable cases. Probable cases are based on verbal reports and results of antigen testing, as identified by the Department of Health. Reported rates do not include home test results, which could lead to more infections than reported.
ACHI has also updated the maps and tables on its website showing immunization rates by public school district, community and postal code, using data from the Department of Health as of Saturday, January 8.
23 school districts achieved vaccination rates of at least 50% of district residents, with Bentonville the only one to exceed 60% (61%).