Two hundred school districts in Arkansas have COVID-19 infection rates of 50 or more new known infections per 10,000 district residents over a 14-day period, according to data by the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI) released Thursday afternoon. The number of districts experiencing significant increases is up from 182 a week earlier and only one short of the record high from January of 201 districts. The information is based on Arkansas Department of Health data obtained Monday.
Of those 200 districts, 50 have 14-day COVID-19 infection rates of 100 or more new known infections per 10,000 district residents, or more than 1% of residents, up from 42 a week earlier.
The local-level COVID data can be found on ACHI’s COVID-19 in Arkansas web page. On ACHI’s map of Arkansas school districts, a district with 50 to 99 new known infections per 10,000 residents is shaded red, and a district with 100 or more new known infections per 10,000 residents is shaded purple.
A district with 30 to 49 new known infections is shaded orange on the map. This week, all but three districts ― Mountainburg, Dierks and Junction City ― are orange, red, or purple.
“COVID-19 is surging in Arkansas because of the highly contagious delta variant and the state’s low vaccination rate,” said ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson. “With the school year beginning in this difficult time, it is imperative that schools use a combination of measures to protect students: vaccination for those who are eligible, masks, social distancing, good hand hygiene, and increased ventilation. School leaders who have made the decision to require masks in the classroom are to be commended. But the most effective way to prevent outbreaks in schools is for the residents of the communities to get vaccinated.”
Known infections reported by ACHI include confirmed and probable cases. Probable cases are based on verbal reporting and antigen test results, as identified by the Department of Health.
The color-shading of a district is based on infections among community residents living within the geographical boundaries of the school districts and not on cases among school employees and students. However, this week ACHI added information on known infections among school employees and students, based on the Department of Health’s weekly Educational Institutions Report.