LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement announced January 27 the recently added “pink zone,” representing Arkansas public school districts where at least 2% of the local population is known to be newly infected with COVID-19, now includes nearly 80% of the state’s 234 contiguous school districts.
According to a news release from ACHI, the updated school districts map shows that 186, or 79% of districts, have COVID-19 infection rates of 200 or more new known infections per 10,000 district residents, up from 170 last week and a new record.
Districts in the pink zone include one, Two Rivers, where more than 6% of the local population was recently infected. In five others, more than 5% of the population is known to have been recently infected: Mt. Vernon-Enola, Danville, Clarendon, Paragould, and Stuttgart.
On ACHI’s map, districts shaded red show 0.5% of the population has been infected with COVID-19 over a 14-day period, districts shaded purple show 1%, and districts shaded pink show 2%.
For the second consecutive week, all of Arkansas’s school districts have COVID-19 infection rates are in the red zone. 46 districts are shaded purple.
“It’s a sign of how quickly and pervasively the omicron variant has spread through our state that as recently as early November, no school district had an infection rate high enough to be in the red zone, and now only two districts have infection rates low enough to be in the red zone,” said ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson.
“We are releasing this update a day after the Arkansas Department of Health reported that 1,819 Arkansans were hospitalized with COVID-19, an all-time high,” he said. “For the sake of yourself, your family, your neighbors, and our health care system, please get vaccinated if you have not yet done so, and if you are vaccinated but not boosted, get a booster for maximum protection. Other precautions continue to be important, especially in schools: high-quality face masks (N95 or KN95 masks are best), social distancing, good hand hygiene, and optimal ventilation.”
ACHI also updated the maps and table on its website displaying vaccination rates by public school district, community, and ZIP code, using Department of Health data current as of January 24. 24 school districts have reached vaccination rates of at least 50% of district residents. Bentonville is the only school district above 60% with 62%.