Coronavirus in Arkansas: Governor Hutchinson, ADH officials discuss increase in contact tracing

Coronavirus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson, Secretary of the Department of Health Dr. Nate Smith and Arkansas Department of Health Senior Deputy Stephanie Williams discussed the increase in contact tracing efforts in the state on Monday.

The governor said there is currently 80 personnel from the Arkansas Department of Health and 270 partners.

Hutchinson said they have just brought on General Dynamics as a contractor for $20 million. According to the governor, that will bring an additional 350 contact tracers. They are expected to start next week

The governor also announced there will be another contract for 350 contact tracers for $20 million.

Williams says they hope to have initial contact with the patient within the first couple of days from the positive test result.

Williams also say they do prioritize if the patient is a health care worker.

As of Monday afternoon, there are 24,253 total COVID-19 cases and 292 deaths in the state, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson. That is an increase of 439 cases and five deaths from Sunday.

According to Hutchinson, there were 587 additional cases on Saturday and 605 on Sunday.

Dr. Smith said there are currently 6,127 active cases in the state.

According to Smith, there is now at least one case of the coronavirus in all 75 counties.

State officials say there are 337 people in the hospital due to the coronavirus in Arkansas as of Monday afternoon. That is an increase of 12 from Sunday.

Eighty-one people are on ventilators, according to Dr. Smith. That is an increase of six from Sunday.

State officials say the counties with the highest increase of new cases are Washington County (77), Pulaski County (46), Yell County (36), Benton County (36), Faulkner County (19), Sebastian County (18) and Crittenden County (16). Dr. Smith said all other counties had fewer than 10 new cases.

State officials say there is a concern about the steady increase in cases in central Arkansas. Dr. Smith said central Arkansas has a high population density, and it could be challenging to control. Smith said state officials need to watch and take action. Officials say contact tracing should help.

According to Smith, 17,834 people have recovered from the virus in Arkansas.

Governor Hutchinson said 3,615 tests were completed Sunday.

Hutchinson announced they are raising the goal for testing in July. The goal was originally set for 180,000 tests in the month. The new goal for the month is 200,000 tests.

Governor Hutchinson said he had a conversation with the White House Coronavirus Taskforce Monday morning about commercial labs running behind on test results. The governor said he wants the Defense Production Act utilized to be able to do the amount of testing that is needed.

Dr. Smith said reagents are an issue with hospitals.

According to state officials, Brewski’s on Main Street in Little Rock had their license pulled by the Department of Health because they were not following guidelines.

The governor also thanked health care workers who were hard at work over the weekend to take care of patients while people were celebrating Independence Day.

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