Coronavirus in Ark.: Governor directs ADH to double number of contact tracers

Coronavirus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday he has directed the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) to double the number of contact tracers from 350 to 700.

The governor said this would cost around an additional $22 million.

Hutchinson said he would ask the CARES Act Steering Committee and the legislature.

“We have to have these resources to follow up with our contact tracing,” Hutchinson said.

The governor also announced July’s goal for testing in Arkansas is 180,000. Hutchinson said this would test six percent of the population. The governor said he set the goal with Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith. Gov. Hutchinson said testing depends on the demand and resources. The governor said Dr. Smith and ADH are hosting surge events in Washington and Benton counties in the coming weeks.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there are 17,375 total COVID-19 cases and 240 deaths in the state, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson. That’s an increase of 697 cases and three deaths since Tuesday.

Dr. Smith said at least 43 of the new cases are from correctional facilities.

The governor said the new cases are spread over a large part of the state.

The governor said Hot Spring County had 168 of the 697 new cases. Dr. Smith said all are from Malvern and suspects that most or all are from the Ouachita River Unit.

According to state officials, 79 of the new cases are from Washington County. Dr. Smith said this is down significantly from the 144 cases from the area announced Tuesday.

State officials say 67 of the new cases are in Benton County, 51 are in Pulaski County, 40 are in Sebastian County.

According to the governor and Secretary of Health, there are 29 new cases in Faulkner County. Dr. Smith said most of those cases are from the Conway area.

Dr. Smith said 26 new cases in Columbia County from a nursing home in Magnolia.

State officials say 26 of the new cases are in Yell County and the other counties have fewer than 20 cases.

State officials say while they are starting to see a slight decrease in Washington, Benton counties, other areas are starting to see a rise in cases. Dr. Smith said they will also start to focus on other areas.

Dr. Smith said there are currently 5,567 active cases. Smith said out of the number of active cases, 100 are in nursing homes and at least 819 are in correctional facilities.

State officials say there are currently 267 hospitalizations, an increase of 19 from Tuesday.

Dr. Smith said 58 people are on ventilators due to the coronavirus, an increase of one from Tuesday.

Dr. Smith said 7,374 people were tested for the virus in Arkansas on Tuesday.

Dr. Smith said 11,568 people have recovered from the virus in Arkansas, an increase of 348 from Tuesday.

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