Coronavirus in Arkansas: Governor, state leaders discuss increase of cases

Coronavirus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson and other state leaders gave an update Monday afternoon regarding Arkansas’s COVID-19 cases and response.

As of Monday afternoon, there are 9,740 total COVID-19 cases and 155 deaths, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson.

That’s an increase of 314 cases and one death from Sunday.

According to Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith, 13 of the new cases are in correctional facilities and 301 are in communities.

Dr. Smith said the number of active cases is 2,955, which is a new all-time high. According to Smith, out of the number of active cases, 139 are from nursing homes, 106 are from correctional facilities and 2,710 are from communities.

On Sunday, the state saw an additional 335 cases.

On Saturday, the state saw 450 new cases.

State officials say 26 additional Arkansans have been hospitalized, bringing the current number to 171. The governor said this is an all-time high for coronavirus hospitalizations in Arkansas.

Dr. Smith said 46 people are on ventilators in Arkansas due to the coronavirus, an increase of 11 from Sunday.

Dr. Smith said 55 nursing home residents and 18 staff have tested positive. Smith said most of those cases are at the Southern Pines Health and Rehab in Prescott.

Dr. Smith said there are 115 new cases Federal Correctional Institution in Forrest City.

The governor said 4,131 tests were done Sunday.

According to Dr. Smith, there have been more than 4,000 cases every day, with the exception of the first day of June.

The total number of cases completed in the state so far in June is 28,862, which is ahead of target, according to Dr. Smith. The goal for testing in June is 120,000 tests completed.

The governor said the counties with the highest number of new cases are Washington County with 86 new cases and Benton County with 41 new cases.

Dr. Smith said Pulaski County had 13 new cases, Saline has 11 new cases, Sebastian County has 11 cases and Sevier County had 11 cases.

According to Dr. Smith, four of the five regions are seeing an increase in cases. Dr. Smith said northwest Arkansas is driving the increase of cases and cases in southwest Arkansas are also increasing, just with much lower numbers than the northwest region. Smith said the rise in the southwest region is mostly due to De Queen.

Smith said the state has seen clusters in correctional facilities, nursing homes, essential industries and community transmission.

Governor Hutchinson said there are six things he knows and is confident in. The first is that the regions of the state are all at different stages of the epidemic and have different trendlines. The governor also said future spread is not predictable. According to Gov. Hutchinson, data show cases are not related to the lifting of restrictions. Fourth, increased testing is showing a light on where challenges we face, according to the governor. The governor also said self-discipline and social discipline is a constant. Lastly, the governor said the economy must keep moving, generating and providing jobs.

Dr. Smith also said that data shows the increase in cases is not due to the lifting of restrictions. According to Smith, out of the people who tested positive Sunday, fewer than 2% visited a restaurant, less than 1% went to a barbershop, 0.3% went to a gym and 0.5% went to a hotel or motel.

Dr. Smith said 6,630 people have recovered from the virus in Arkansas, which is an increase of 206 from Sunday.

State officials say they are not ready to make any changes in the status of reopening just yet.

Steuart Walton, chairman of the Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force, said they held an in-person meeting on Monday with 20-25 members in person with social distancing. Walton said this is a good sign for the state.

Walton said Arkansas is handling the situation well compared to other states.

Walton said the interim report was delivered over a week ago and the task force is working on another report as the month unfolds.

Walton said he’s “concerned, but optimistic for the entire state”.

Governor Hutchinson also announced Monday that the Arkansas National Guard is back on normal status, which means they were deactivated. They had been activated due to the protests.

The governor said he had very good meetings with some of the protesters.

Hutchinson said there will be an announcement Tuesday at 11 a.m. about a task force that deals with police training, certifications and standards.

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