Governor announces Arkansas will receive 90k testing kits, swabs in May from CDC

Coronavirus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday the state will receive 90,000 testing kits and swabs in May from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The governor said one of the challenges the state faced with increasing testing is having the kits needed.

Hutchinson said state officials should be receiving the first batch this week.

The governor said this will help increase commercial testing capacity.

The governor said the internal goal is to test 60,000 people in May.

Governor Hutchinson also announced Wednesday he signed an executive order to help gas and oil producers in south Arkansas. Hutchinson said this executive order will waive fees for the oil and gas industry.

The governor announced Wednesday there are 3,586 cases in Arkansas as of Wednesday afternoon.

Dr. Nate Smith, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health, said out of the total number of cases, 1,374 cases are considered active.

State officials say that’s an increase of 72 cases, 20 from the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Forrest City and 52 are from communities.

Dr. Smith said 301 FCI inmates have tested positive for the virus.

Sixty-nine people are in the hospital as of Wednesday due to the coronavirus. Dr. Smith said that was a net decrease of 20 from Tuesday.

Fourteen people are on ventilators due to the virus, which is a net decrease of two, according to Dr. Smith.

The governor announced an additional two deaths Wednesday, bringing the state’s death toll to 85.

Dr. Smith said of the two deaths announced Wednesday, one was an inmate from the Cummins Unit and the other was a nursing home resident.

Dr. Smith said in total, 33 nursing home residents have died due to complications of the coronavirus.

Dr. Smith also said in total, six inmates from the Cummins Unit have died due to the coronavirus.

State officials say 1,682 tests were done in Arkansas on Tuesday.

Dr. Smith said after the Dental Advisory Group met Tuesday, the decision was made to move the start date for the directive to allow non-urgent treatments from May 18 to May 11. Dr. Smith said according to the Dental Association, most dentists had the personal protective equipment necessary. Smith said not every dental office will be ready though. Smith said his department was working with the Board of Dental Examiners to do unannounced visits to make sure dental offices were in compliance.

Dr. Smith said Wednesday ADH was seeing a growth in cases in the northeast and southwest parts of the state. Smith said the areas of concern were primarily in Texarkana, Jonesboro, West Memphis and Forrest City.

Steuart Walton, who is the chair of the Economic Recovery Task Force, said in the three weeks since the task force was created, he’s encouraged by the progress that has been made. He said the task force is working almost daily, if not daily. Walton said he’s seeing some early, but important steps in getting the state’s economy reopened.

Walton said the task force is launching a website on Friday as a resource for businesses, employees and the state of Arkansas.

Walton also said there is a need for Arkansas businesses to lead by example and to set an example for following guidelines.

Walton also said he was encouraged by seeing businesses adapting and changing their business to thrive. One example he gave was Rock Town Distillery, who went from making spirits to also making hand sanitizer.

Walton said the guidelines are imperfect and they’ll need to be changed. He said it won’t suit everyone or every business.

The governor announced Thursday’s press conference will be in Texarkana.

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