Arkansas reached another new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state on Monday as thousands of students headed back to school.
The state reported 46 new virus hospitalizations, bringing its total COVID-19 patients to 1,459. That surpasses the record high the state reached last week. The state’s COVID-19 deaths increased by 31.
According to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers, Arkansas ranks fourth in the country for new cases per capita.
At least 70 public school districts and charter schools have imposed mask requirements after a judge temporarily blocked the law. The requirements will cover at least half of the state’s 473,000 public school students. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced Friday she’s appealing the ruling against the mandated ban.
“As many children across Arkansas head back to school today, I am praying for a safe and productive year,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has said he regrets signing the ban into law, tweeted Monday. The governor has said he agreed with the judge’s decision.
There are only 22 intensive care unit beds available in the state, the Department of Health said. There are 553 COVID-19 patients in ICUs around the state and 323 on ventilators.