Coronavirus in Arkansas: Governor Hutchinson, Sec. of Health give update on state’s response, testing

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson and Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith gave an update Tuesday afternoon on Arkansas’s COVID-19 response and testing in the state.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there are 29,733 total COVID-19 cases and 331 deaths in the state, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson. That is an increase of 794 cases and eight deaths from Monday.

According to the governor, the counties with the newest cases are Pulaski County (111), Washington County (68), Sebastian County (52), Pope County (41), Johnson County (37), Benton County (36), Craighead County (29) and Faulkner County (24). The rest of the counties had fewer than 20 new cases, according to the governor.

Dr. Smith said Northwest Arkansas is seeing a downward trend.

Smith also said he’s encouraged by the downward trend in Central Arkansas, but he’s also concerned since the county had more than 100 new cases.

According to Dr. Smith, Southwest Arkansas has been an area with an increase in cases. Most are in the correctional facility in Malvern, according to Smith.

Dr. Smith said out of the new cases, 33 are in correctional facilities and 761 are communities.

According to Dr. Smith, there are currently 6,558 active cases in the state.

State officials say there are currently 445 hospitalizations in the state due to the coronavirus, an increase of six from Monday.

According to Smith, there are 91 people on a ventilator in Arkansas due to the coronavirus, an increase of two from Monday.

Dr. Smith said 22,844 people have recovered from the virus in Arkansas, an increase of 738 from Monday.

Hutchinson said one of the key elements is successful testing.

State officials said 6,563 tests were done Monday.

According to Dr. Smith, the public health lab tested 1,832 Monday, which is an all-time high for the public health lab.

Smith also said Monday’s public health lab completed tests were more than the tests completed in the entire month of March.

Smith said the Arkansas Department of Health will continue to make progress on testing.

Dr. Smith said some people are having to wait too long for their test results.

Smith announced said ADH plans to double their capacity by bringing on two additional high-input instruments.

Governor Hutchinson said the department is working on acquiring their fourth testing equipment.

Hutchinson also said state officials were working to strengthen the enforcement side. According to the governor, the department of health has 1,000 complaints with businesses that are pending and have to be reviewed.

Governor Hutchinson said the following cities have adopted a mask ordinance: Fayetteville, Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Hot Springs, North Little Rock, Helena-West Helena and Tontitown. The governor said many other cities are considering and there will be some that opt-out.

The governor said the state has added a second contract for contact tracing. Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care (AFMC) got the contract last Thursday and will begin July 20, pending the approval of the legislative council. According to Hutchinson, AFMC will add an additional 350 contact tracers.

Hutchinson said General Dynamics, the company that received the first contract, currently have a staff of 83 and 1,200 applicants.

The governor said he went to a farmers market in rural Conway County this weekend. Hutchinson said everyone behind the counter and most of the people that were there was wearing masks and social distancing.

Dr. Smith said state officials will give a detailed breakdown of the counties in Central Arkansas on Wednesday.

The governor said the daily news conference will be in Conway.

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