Coronavirus in Arkansas: Governor Hutchinson announces largest 24-hour increase of community cases


LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- On Tuesday, Governor Hutchinson announced the largest 24-hour increase of community cases in Arkansas.

As of Tuesday, there are 7,818 total cases and 136 deaths, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson.

That is an increase of 375 cases and three deaths from Monday.

Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said out of the 375 cases, 374 were from communities. One case is from a correctional facility.

Dr. Smith said the top counties with new cases are Benton County (65), Pulaski County (63), Washington County (57), Sevier County (33), Craighead County (21) and Yell County (14). Smith said 46% of the Pulaski County cases are in Jacksonville with many of those being residents or workers at a nursing home.

Dr. Smith said there’s an increase in the number of new cases in northwest and southwest Arkansas. According to Smith, northeast and southeast Arkansas continues to see a downward trend. In central Arkansas, there has been a one-day spike, which is attributable to a nursing home.

According to Dr. Smith, there are currently 2,115 active cases of the coronavirus in Arkansas. Of the active cases, 73 are in nursing homes, 53 are in correctional facilities and 1,989 are in communities.

According to state officials, 132 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19, which is an increase of 11. The governor said we are currently at the highest point of hospitalizations in the state.

Dr. Smith said 31 people are on ventilators, which is five more than Monday.

Dr. Smith said 5,567 people have recovered from the virus in Arkansas, an increase of 166 from Monday.

Governor Hutchinson said 3,807 tests were done Monday, with 713 of those from the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). The positivity rate for Monday’s cases is 4.4%.

Governor Hutchinson announced the goal for testing in June is 120,000. That is double the goal set in May. There is also another goal in June to test every nursing home resident and staff.

Dr. Smith said he thinks the state will be able to achieve the June testing goal.

The governor said 90% of the new cases in Benton County have Spanish surnames.

Governor Hutchinson announced the creation of the COVID-19 Latinx Stakeholder group, which is 28 members from public health, government, cities, health care, faith leaders, business, media and community members. The governor said the group began meeting in May. The group focuses on increasing awareness and access to testing. The group is working to ensure communication is translated and disseminated. The group will also share information about complaints, rumors and questions in the community. The group will also partner with the business community to make sure language barriers are addressed and employees are aware of prevention guidelines. The group will also share information about resources.

Dr. Jose Romero, the interim Secretary of Health, said so far, the stakeholder group has discussed testing in hot spot areas. Romero said they are developing information videos and text in Spanish.

Governor Hutchinson also spoke Tuesday about the May state revenue report, saying the revenue is up $80 million of the revised forecast. It is 3.4% below last year. The governor said it’s extraordinarily good compared to projections. According to Gov. Hutchinson, sales tax collections show people are gaining confidence in the economy again.

The governor also spoke about ongoing protests across the state. Hutchinson said he observed it was peaceful Monday night until about 10 p.m. The governor said some turned violent and destructive. Gov. Hutchinson said Arkansas State Police (ASP) arrested five Arkansas residents. The governor said he expects ASP to work with Little Rock Police and be out again Tuesday night. Hutchinson said if that conduct continues, police will be prepared to make arrests as necessary.

The governor also spoke about how protesting could impact COVID-19. The governor said in protests in Benton County, a vast majority of participants have masks on but they are not social distancing. According to the governor, the protesters wearing masks does set an example as to how we should take the spread of COVID-19 very seriously.

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