Coronavirus in Ark.: Gov. Hutchinson announces plan to test all inmates in state custody by end of August

Coronavirus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday the state plans to test all inmates in state custody for the coronavirus by the end of August.

Governor Hutchinson said there are 19 facilities and 10 have already fully tested.

That means there are nine more facilities to be tested by the end of the month. 

The governor authorized 10 National Guard personnel to assist in taking samples from inmates. According to Hutchinson, this was a request from Department of Corrections Secretary Solomon Graves.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there are 46,293 total COVID-19 cases and 508 deaths in the state, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson. That is an increase of 912 cases and 18 deaths from Tuesday.

According to the governor, 158 of the new cases are in correctional units.

The governor said this means the number of community cases remained relatively flat.

Hutchinson said the counties with the highest number of new cases is Chicot County (149), Pulaski County (79), Sebastian County (51), Washington County (42), Mississippi County (35), Garland County (29), Craighead County (28), Saline County (28), Saline County (26), Pope County (24), Ashley County (21), Crittenden County (21) and Benton County (20).

Dr. Romero said there are currently 6,937 active cases of the coronavirus in Arkansas- with 88 being in nursing homes, 513 in correctional facilities and 6,336 in communities.

State officials say there are currently 516 hospitalizations due to the coronavirus in Arkansas, a decrease of 10 since Tuesday.

Dr. Romero said there was an increase of people on a ventilator in the state to 106.

Dr. Romero said 5,077 tests were completed Tuesday. Out of the 5,077 tests completed, the Arkansas Department of Health Public Health completed 1,509 tests, 3,105 were completed by commercial labs and 406 were completed by UAMS.

The governor also announced Wednesday he has named Dr. Jose Romero to become the Secretary of Health.

It was also announced Wednesday there are new guidelines on the Arkansas Department of Health’s website for band and choir.

Commissioner of Education Johnny Key announced Wednesday there is a new call center resource. The call center opened on Monday and is a resource for teachers and parents to call if they have questions. The number is 833-353-6050, and is operational Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Key said the hours could be expanded.

On Tuesday, Commerce Secretary Mike Preston said there are some Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and unemployment claims on hold because they are potentially fraudulent claims.

According to Preston, 27,000 PUA claims and 10,000 unemployment claims are on hold due to possible fraud.

The governor also said he received a letter that he had applied for assistance and he had not applied.

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