LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas on Wednesday reported a near-record increase in coronavirus deaths as the state's cases continued to mount.

The Department of Health reported 65 new deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, bringing the state's total fatalities since the pandemic began to 3,901. The increase was the state's highest since it reported a record 66 deaths on Dec. 29.

The state's virus cases rose by 3,705 to 242,593. Its hospitalizations, which had hit record levels in recent days, dropped by two to 1,321.

"It has been a tough day with the loss of another 65 of our friends and neighbors to COVID-19," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement released by his office. "Vaccine doses continue to be distributed across the state to those in Category 1-A, and we are also receiving additional doses each week."

Nearly 4% of the state's intensive care unit beds and 21% of its hospital beds are available, according to the Department of Health. There are 427 COVID-19 patients in ICUs around the state.

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