Drew County logs 74 COVID cases; breaks daily record

By Melissa Orrell

editor@monticellonews.net

Drew County shot to number one in the state for positive COVID-19 probable and confirmed cases on that date when adjusted for population, Thursday, Nov. 26, with 40 new cases per 10,000 people and number nine in the statefor positive test on that day, not adjusted for population, when the county logged a total of 74 new cases in one day. The county also added an additional 22 cases Friday, Nov. 27.

The number represented a new high number of cases in one day, which had previously been set on Tuesday, Nov. 24, when the number of positive tests reported for the county was 19. 

With 74 positive cases out of a total of 143 tests for the same day, it set the positivity rate for that day only at 52% and caused the cumulative positivity rate for the county to rise up to 6.75%, a jump from the 6.11% positivity rate the day before. This is the highest the county’s positivity rate has been since the beginning of the pandemic, only reaching above 6% previously at the beginning of the pandemic and then again at the end of September before dipping down to 5.4% in October and hovering there for weeks before starting to slowly inch back up toward 6%. This is the highest jump in positivity rate for the county since the beginning of the pandemic. 

The county had a total of 98 active cases Wednesday, Nov. 25, which rose to  166 active cases Thursday, Nov. 27 and 176 on Friday, Nov. 28. It also raises the total number of cumulative cases in the county to 712. The 712 number, reported combines the probable and confirmed cases in Drew County. Confirmed cases are cases who have been tested using the PCR test, which is more reliable than the rapid antigen tests also being used. A probable case is one in which the antigen test has been used or a person is showing symptoms, has been in contact with a positive case, but hasn’t tested or received results yet. The Arkansas Department of Health County data shows the numbers breaking down to 83 confirmed active cases, 93 probable active cases and 549 confirmed cumulative positive tests and 163 probable tests.

Scott Barrilleaux, Drew Memorial Health System Chief Executive Officer, previously reported to the Quorum Court that when the hospital testing machines were up and running, the hospital would first use the rapid, antigen test and only use the PCR test for those who were showing symptoms but received a negative antigen test. 

Both Monticello and Drew County Schools are in the Orange zone for school districts, which is based on the residents within the Districts’ school zone population, however, that data lags behind real time numbers by a week, so this week’s data have not been factored into that rating yet. 

The University of Arkansas at Monticello is ranked #9 currently for positive cases within the state’s Universities, at 21 cases. However, in the cumulative number of cases UAM is still low on the list, number 18 out of 26 listed schools, with a total cumulative cases of 78 cases. The highest number of cumulative cases goes to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville with 2,620 and the lowest cumulative cases listed as 26 coming from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. The last data available on the Universities was updated on Nov. 23. 

However, UAM students will not be returning to campus until the spring semester, which will begin a week later than originally scheduled. The decision to shift to online learning following Thanksgiving break was made in the summer when the University announced their plans for the Fall semester before the beginning of school. In addition, the school announced in November plans to push back the beginning of the Spring semester by a week and forgo Spring Break, showing the University looking ahead as the state continued to climb in cases.

“UAM attributes it’s low number of cumulative cases to the students, faculty and staff who have been widely supportive of measures to protect one another and to stop the spread, such as wearing masks in all public campus spaces and maintaining six feet of distance from others” said Ember Davis, UAM director of Marketing and Public Relations, “UAM case numbers, however, are directly impacted by the rising spread of COVID-19 in the Southeast Arkansas region.” 

Drew County Judge Robert Akin and Mayor Paige Chase both expressed the need for citizens to follow state mandated mask wearing when in public and not able to maintain a six foot distance from others.

“I hope everyone will understand we are still under a mask mandate by the state and will follow the guidelines set forth by the Arkansas Department of Health and the CDC,” said Chase. “Everyone needs to wear a mask and adhere to the social distance guidelines set forth ADH and the CDC.”

“Especially with numbers this high, everyone needs to be wearing a mask and social distancing,” said Akin.

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