Coronavirus in Arkansas: Governor Hutchinson discusses antigen testing

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson, interim Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero, and Joseph Thompson, President & CEO of Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI), gave an update on coronavirus cases and discussed antigen testing during the daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday.

As of Thursday afternoon, there are 41,759 total COVID-19 cases and 442 deaths in Arkansas. That’s an increase of 791 cases and eight deaths since Wednesday.

The governor said the top counties with new cases are Pulaski County (73), Sebastian County (57), Benton County (47), Garland County (44), Garland County (44), Washington County (37), Independence County (34), Jefferson County (31), Pope County (30), Craighead County (29), Mississippi County (23) and Faulkner County (21).

According to state officials, there have been 5,084 antigen tests completed since June 11. Of the total number of antigen tests completed, there have been 548 presumptive positives.

The governor said the positive antigen tests are considered presumed positives and have to be confirmed.

The governor said there is a cost to antigen tests, and is around $95.

According to Governor Hutchinson, there are currently 504 hospitalizations due to the coronavirus in Arkansas, which is a decrease of four from Wednesday.

Hutchinson also said the number of people on a ventilator in the state due to the virus is currently 101, a decrease of seven from Wednesday.

According to the governor, there are currently 6,580 active cases in the state.

Dr. Romero said of the total number of active cases, 77 are in nursing homes, 319 are in correctional facilities and 6,184 are in communities.

The governor said 5,598 tests were completed Wednesday.

Romero said of the tests completed Wednesday, 1,120 were completed by the Arkansas Department of Health, 4,051 were completed by commercial labs and 427 were completed by UAMS.

Romero announced Thursday that a directive requiring coronavirus testing prior to an elective surgery will be eliminated, and the decision will now be up to the physician and the institution.

State officials say less than one percent of the patients tested before an elective surgery tested positive for the virus.

The governor announced Thursday that six percent of the state’s population was tested in July.

The total number of tests completed in Arkansas so far in July is 181,456.

The governor did say they are currently short of the 200,000 goal for July but there are two days of results left.

Dr. Romero said as of Thursday, 34,737 people have recovered from the virus, which is an increase of almost 800 from Wednesday.

The governor announced Thursday he is authorizing an additional 14 National Guard soldiers to assist the Arkansas Department of Health. That is in addition to the 28 who are already on active duty to assist during the pandemic.

Thompson said people can now see active cases at the city level on ACHI.net.

According to Thompson, ACHI released the city level cumulative cases two weeks ago.

“500 communities have active COVID disease,” according to Thompson.

Thompson said nearly every community in Arkansas has a positive case.

The governor said the top cities with active cases are Little Rock (495), Springdale (421), Fort Smith (348), Jonesboro (189), Rogers (185), Pine Bluff (168), Russellville (166) and Fayetteville (136).

The governor said on Friday, state officials will have an update on sports, specifically fall contact sports such as cheerleading, volleyball and football.

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