LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- As of Thursday, there are 22,075 total COVID-19 cases and 279 deaths, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson. That is an increase of 878 cases and two deaths from Wednesday.
Governor Asa Hutchinson said this is the largest single-day case increase in Arkansas.
The governor said the state saw double the amount of cases Thursday than Wednesday.
Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said out of the 878 new cases, at least 150 are in correctional facilities.
Governor Hutchinson said the counties with the most new cases are Hot Spring County (171), Washington County (117), Pulaski County (98), Benton County (75), Sebastian County (55), Faulkner County (35) and Crawford County (33). The rest of the counties have fewer than 20 new cases.
State officials say most of the cases in Hot Spring County are in a correctional facility.
According to state officials, half of the new cases in Pulaski County are in Little Rock and a quarter are in North Little Rock.
Dr. Smith said there are currently 6,098 active coronavirus cases in the state.
The number of hospitalizations due to the virus is 272, which is down three from Thursday.
According to Dr. Smith, 69 people are on a ventilator due to the virus, which is down three from Wednesday.
Dr. Smith said 15,698 people have recovered from the virus, which is 535 more than Wednesday.
State officials say 7,089 tests were completed on Wednesday.
Governor Asa Hutchinson also announced Thursday that voters will be able to request absentee ballots for the November 3 election if they are concerned about COVID-19.
Governor Hutchinson said state law allows a voter to absentee vote if a person will be unavailable that day or illness or physical disability.
The governor said he agreed with the Secretary of State John Thurston’s interpretation.
Michael John Gray, State Democratic Party Chairman, said, “We look past our differences to see what makes the most sense.”
Doyle Webb, Chair of the Republican Party of Arkansas, said he wanted to “encourage our voters to, if they are concerned about their health, to request an absentee ballot.”
Thurston said personal protective equipment will be purchased from the CARES Act funds. Thurston also said there will be disposable stylus pens for every voter who wants to vote in person.
According to the Secretary of the State, you must apply for an absentee ballot by mail or fax by October 27 or pick one up in person through November 2.
Thurston said the absentee ballots must be received by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, which is November 3.
You can contact your county clerk or go to sos.arkansas.gov to download an application for an absentee ballot. The application is under the elections tab.
There has not been a discussion on opening early voting earlier or opening bigger venues for voting, according to state officials.
In November 2016, there were about 42,000 absentee votes. Thurston expects there will be between 100,000 to 150,000 this year.
State officials say these votes will not be counted before Election Day.
Governor Hutchinson warned some people canvassing for ballot issues are from out of state, including Arizona. Hutchinson asked for Arkansans to wear masks if they are signing for a ballot measure.
On Thursday morning, Governor Asa Hutchinson talked about the virus and its impact in Arkansas, you can watch the interview below.
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