Arkansas Reports Over 3,100 Active COVID Cases Among Public School Students, Employees

Arkansas reported over 3,100 active COVID-19 cases among public school students and employees within 173 school districts in the state on Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

As most students began school last week for the new academic year, the majority of public school students are under mask mandates imposed by the districts. Arkansas' Department of Health reported the 3,102 COVID-19 cases. There were over 100 active COVID-19 cases among students and employees each reported by the Bentonville, Springdale, Rogers, Cabot and Fort Smith districts.

This follows the state's COVID-19 numbers a week ago when just below 1,800 active cases were reported in schools.

"Increasing vaccines will reduce cases, hospitalizations & deaths," wrote Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Twitter Thursday.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

So glad to see >31,000 doses given w/the number of 1st doses almost as high as the number of 2nd doses, but it's never a good day when we have 32 new COVID deaths. This represents the loss of neighbors & friends. Increasing vaccines will reduce cases, hospitalizations & deaths. pic.twitter.com/0RO4RVcyrG

— Gov. Asa Hutchinson (@AsaHutchinson) August 26, 2021
Teacher Wearing a Mask in School
Arkansas reported over 3,100 COVID-19 cases among public school students and employees. In this photo, pupils attend a lesson at their elementary school in Berlin on August 9, 2021, after coming back from summer holidays and amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Tobias Schwarz/AFP via Getty Images

The school mask requirements in Arkansas emerged after a judge in Little Rock temporarily blocked a state law that bans mask mandates in schools and public places.

Meanwhile, a judge in Lonoke County was expected to rule Friday on a lawsuit by some parents challenging the Cabot district schools' mask requirement. Arkansas ranks fifth in the country for new virus cases per capita, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Hawaii's New Public Service Campaign Recalls 19th Century Disease Outbreak

As Hawaii grapples with a surge in COVID-19 cases, record-high hospitalizations and stagnant vaccination rates, a public service announcement campaign is recalling a 19th century disease outbreak.

The campaign reminds Native Hawaiians that when Hawaii was a kingdom, its rulers pushed people to get vaccinated against smallpox in the 1850s. The state's indigenous people are being hit hard by the virus.

Hawaii was once seen as a beacon of safety during the pandemic because of stringent travel and quarantine restrictions and overall vaccine acceptance that made it one of the most inoculated states in the country.

But the highly contagious delta variant exploited weaknesses as residents let down their guard and attended family gatherings after months of restrictions.

Some Hawaiians say distrust of government stemming from the U.S.-backed 1893 overthrow of the monarchy is a big reason why vaccination rates are lagging.

A group of businesses and nonprofits launched the public service campaign Thursday that is aimed at reducing vaccine hesitancy among Native Hawaiians.

Nevada Man Wins $1 Million Grand Prize from Vaccine Jackpot Program

A man from the Las Vegas area won the $1 million grand prize Thursday to cap an eight-week COVID-19 vaccination jackpot program.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak created the program to boost enthusiasm for COVID-19 shots.

The prize winners were introduced by their first name and last initial at a live event hosted by the governor at the Las Vegas Convention Center and aides at the Sierra Arts Foundation's Riverside Gallery in Reno.

The program called Vax Nevada Days launched June 17 with $5 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds. State health data showed the percentage of vaccinated state residents increased about 10 percent between the time the prize pool was announced in mid-June and when it ended Thursday.

Idaho's COVID-19 Cases Rise as Volunteers Help With Contact Tracing

Hospital facilities and public health agencies in Idaho are scrambling to add capacity as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise statewide. But many state residents don't seem to feel the same urgency.

Volunteers are helping with contract tracing at the Central District Health Department, and health education classrooms are being converted into COVID-19 treatment units in northern Idaho.

On Thursday, some Idaho hospitals only narrowly avoided asking the state to enact "crisis standards of care" — where scarce health care resources are allotted to the patients most likely to benefit — thanks in part to statewide coordination.

Meanwhile, unmasked spectators sat shoulder-to-shoulder in the showing arena at the Western Idaho Fair this week as children maneuvered livestock around the ring. At West Ada School District, Idaho's largest school district, 21 percent of students had officially "opted out" of the district's mask requirement before the first day of school ended on Thursday.

"Our forecast is bad, to put it real bluntly," said Dr. Frank Johnson, the vice president of medical affairs at St. Luke's Health System.

COVID-19 related hospital admissions have been doubling every two weeks since July 24, he said.

Woman Waits for COVID-19 Testing in California
Ana Aguirre, 50, who said she was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, waits to get tested for the virus at Families Together of Orange County Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, in Tustin, Calif. Jae C. Hong/AP Photo