Coronavirus in Ark.: Sec. of Health says state beginning to see outbreaks on some college, university campuses

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KARK/FOX16)- Secretary of Health Dr. José Romero said in Friday’s news conference the state is starting to see outbreaks on some college and university campuses.

Dr. Romero said that 75 were tested at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and “an alarming rate” tested positive for the virus. Romero said there will be testing events at the U of A campus next Tuesday and Thursday.

Dr. Romero said there is also a testing event next Thursday at the University of the Ozarks.

Romero said it’s important for students to wear a mask, social distance and wash your hand properly.

Governor Hutchinson announced Friday there are an additional 838 COVID-19 cases and 17 deaths. That brings the state’s total to 59,583 total COVID-19 cases and 756 deaths in the state.

Dr. Romero said three of the reported deaths were delayed. Romero also said three of the deaths were in Jefferson County and four were in nursing homes.

The top counties reporting new cases on Friday include:

  • Pulaski -65
  • Benton – 49
  • Washington – 41
  • Pope – 39
  • Faulkner -29
  • Jefferson – 27
  • Sebastian – 27
  • Craighead – 25
  • Mississippi – 21
  • Garland – 21
  • Independence – 20

Hutchinson said of the 838 new cases, 181 are from correctional facilities. The governor said 123 of the correctional facilities cases are at the Varner Unit and were detected due to mass testing.

Governor Hutchinson said he is frustrated with the uptick in the rolling average of new cases.

Hutchinson said the positivity rate by date of result is below the 10% mark, even with back filing.

The governor said the number of hospitalizations has decreased by 26 to 407.

According to Dr. Romero, 95 people are currently on ventilators due to the virus in Arkansas, which is a decrease of four.

Romero said there are 5,496 active cases in the state. Of the active cases, 225 are in nursing homes, 668 are in correctional facilities and 4,603 are in communities.

The governor said 6,360 tests were completed within the last 24 hours. Dr. Romero said the Arkansas Department of Health did one-third of the testing.

Governor Hutchinson also showed a new map, showing the 14-day moving average of percent positive. In the map from August 12-26, there was a 7.8% percent positivity rate in Pulaski County, 11.4% in Saline County, 21% positivity rate in Montgomery County and 14.75% in Mississippi County.

Education Secretary Johnny Key says it has been a successful first week for K-12 education and there are no additional schools with modifications.

Hutchinson said its important to be responsible over the weekend.

Dr. Romero said it is important for those who are tested to quarantine until the test results are back.

The governor said Jeff Prail, an advocate for the deaf community, talked with him about the difficulty of communicating with the deaf. Governor Hutchinson said the state is now producing masks with clear plastic for reading lips.

Governor Hutchinson thanks the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and director A.J. Gary for their response with Tropical Storm Laura.

Hutchinson said there are 32,000 without power in Arkansas.

The governor said it could have been worse.

According to the governor, there are no reports of injuries or deaths due to the storms.

The governor said the next step is to assess the damage.

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