As Arkansas enters the tenth month of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals is reaching new highs with 1,074 patients currently in hospitals as of Tuesday, according to the state Health Department.

The state’s total confirmed and probable coronavirus cases increased Tuesday by 1,950 to 159,309. Ten more people have died as a result of the virus over the last 24 hours bringing the total number of deaths to 2,512.

At his weekly Covid-19 update, Gov. Asa Hutchinson pointed to a graph showing the percentage of occupied intensive care unit beds used by Covid-19 patients by hospital region. The highest percentage is in the Southwest region at 57.26 percent followed by Southeast region at 39.29 percent. The lowest percentage of occupied ICU beds is in the Arkansas Valley region at 29.84.

Hutchinson said the graphic illustrates the need for coordination.

“You can see just in this one illustration how necessary it is to coordinate the placement of someone in a hospital…,” Hutchinson said.

The governor’s Covid-19 Winter Task Force is currently concentrating its efforts on how the state can more efficiently manage hospitalizations as a result of Covid-19 and be prepared for the future.

Baptist Heath CEO Troy Wells, who serves on the governor’s Covid-19 Winter Task Force, said the task force is recommending that the state utilize the state’s trauma communication (traumacomm) system to match patients with hospitals with available resources.

“We’re trying to match up patient needs with facility resources in real time to provide a way to facilitate those transfers throughout the state,” Wells said.

The system has a number of benefits, according to Wells. It cuts down on time and the number of calls required to move a patient to the right place; it better identifies, in a standardized way, what a particular patient may need; and helps to prevent certain hospitals from being overwhelmed with patients that might be able to be cared for elsewhere.

“So we’re really trying to maximize the use of those scarce resources, ICU beds in particular, and look at the whole state and take care of all of our patients in Arkansas,” Wells said.

Hutchinson, who accepted the task force recommendation, said it will likely take about two weeks to get the system in place and cost around $70,000 per month. That cost would include personnel to operate the system.

Meanwhile, the state is expected to receive about 25,000 initial doses of Pfizer’s covid-19 vaccine within the next two weeks.

“It’s important for everyone to understand that when those vaccines come to Arkansas that there will not be enough to cover even the top priority category which is the health care workers and those in the nursing home setting,” Hutchinson said.

It will be some time, he said, before the state gets the vaccine available to the general public.

Covid-19 Cases in Southeast Arkansas

ASHLEY COUNTY

Total Cumulative Cases: 871
Confirmed Cases: 777
Probable Cases: 94

Total Active Cases: 122
Active Confirmed Cases: 101
Active Probable Cases: 21

Total Recovered Cases: 734
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 662
Recovered Probable Cases: 72

Total Deaths: 15
Confirmed Deaths: 14
Probable Deaths: 1

BRADLEY COUNTY

Total Cumulative Cases: 516
Confirmed Cases: 441
Probable Cases: 75

Total Active Cases: 92
Active Confirmed Cases: 52
Active Probable Cases: 40

Total Recovered Cases: 417
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 382
Recovered Probable Cases: 35

Total Deaths: 7
Confirmed Deaths: 7
Probable Deaths: 0

CHICOT COUNTY

Total Cumulative Cases: 1,195
Confirmed Cases: 1,143
Probable Cases: 52

Total Active Cases: 67
Active Confirmed Cases: 54
Active Probable Cases: 13

Total Recovered Cases: 1,100
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,062
Recovered Probable Cases: 38

Total Deaths: 28
Confirmed Deaths: 27
Probable Deaths: 1

CLEVELAND COUNTY

Total Cumulative Cases: 379
Confirmed Cases: 294
Probable Cases: 85

Total Active Cases: 55
Active Confirmed Cases: 22
Active Probable Cases: 33

Total Recovered Cases: 309
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 258
Recovered Probable Cases: 51

Total Deaths: 15
Confirmed Deaths: 14
Probable Deaths: 1

DESHA COUNTY

Total Cumulative Cases: 574
Confirmed Cases: 501
Probable Cases: 73

Total Active Cases: 62
Active Confirmed Cases: 33
Active Probable Cases: 29

Total Recovered Cases: 504
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 461
Recovered Probable Cases: 43

Total Deaths: 8
Confirmed Deaths: 7
Probable Deaths: 1

DREW COUNTY

Total Cumulative Cases: 763
Confirmed Cases: 587
Probable Cases: 176

Total Active Cases: 194
Active Confirmed Cases: 99
Active Probable Cases: 95

Total Recovered Cases: 561
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 481
Recovered Probable Cases: 80

Total Deaths: 8
Confirmed Deaths: 7
Probable Deaths: 1

LINCOLN COUNTY

Total Cumulative Cases: 2,477
Confirmed Cases: 2,390
Probable Cases: 87

Total Active Cases: 70
Active Confirmed Cases: 39
Active Probable Cases: 31

Total Recovered Cases: 2,389
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 2,334
Recovered Probable Cases: 55

Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 17
Probable Deaths: 1

— Source: Arkansas Department of Health

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control, the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests that determine confirmed cases are more sensitive than the antigen tests that determine probable cases.