Coronavirus in Ark.: State officials give update on COVID-19 response, discuss testing nursing homes

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

As of Wednesday afternoon, there are 8,067 total COVID-19 cases and 142 deaths in Arkansas, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson.

That’s an increase of 249 cases and six deaths.

Dr. Smith said out of the new cases, 245 are from the community and four are from correctional facilities.

Smith said out of the 249 new cases, 33 are from Pulaski County, 28 are from Washington County, 23 are from Sevier County, 20 are from Benton County and 18 are from Crittenden County.

Dr. Smith said of the 142 deaths, 55 are from nursing homes, which is 39% of the total.

According to Rachel Bunch, Executive Director of the Arkansas Health Care Association, no long-term care facility staff members have died due to the coronavirus.

According to Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith, of the total number of cases, 2,208 are considered active. Of the active cases, 102 are in nursing homes, 55 are in correctional facilities and 2,051 are in communities.

According to state officials, six additional people have been hospitalized since Tuesday afternoon, bringing the total of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus in Arkansas to 138.

Thirty people are on a ventilator in Arkansas due to the coronavirus, according to Dr. Smith.

Dr. Smith said 5,717 people have recovered from the virus in Arkansas.

Dr. Smith said the last time the statistics were looked at, less than 1% of the new cases were from businesses opening. Dr. Smith said he will look again on Friday. Smith said they’re looking at it twice a week.

According to state officials, 3,872 tests were processed Tuesday with a 4.8% positivity rate.

The number of tests completed so far in June is 7,717, according to state officials.

One of the testing goals set is to test all residents and staff of long-term care and congregate care settings by June 30. According to the governor, 16,000-18,000 nursing home residents and 20,000-22,000 staff, 6,000 alternate living facility residents and 5,000 staff, and 5,000 residents and staff of Department of Human Services facilities will be tested.

LabCorp will facilitate testing.

The testing is a partnership between the Arkansas Department of Health, Department of Human Services and the Arkansas Health Care Association.

The governor said these represent the most vulnerable people in Arkansas.

State officials say testing will be scheduled and coordinated with each facility.

According to state officials, facilities previously tested after May 25 will not be retested in the current plan.

State officials say one of the goals with testing all nursing home residents is to allow visits to nursing home residents.

Bunch said if someone has a family member at the end of life, facilities can arrange for a visitation of some kind.

You can watch the news conference live above.

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