Coronavirus in Arkansas: Governor, state officials discuss rise in cases and Arkansas Ready for Learning

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson, Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith and Dr. Ivy Pfeffer, Deputy Director of the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, spoke Thursday on the rise of coronavirus cases in the state and how schools across the state will prepare for the next school year.

As of Thursday afternoon, there are 10,816 total COVID-19 cases and 171 deaths in the state, according to Governor Hutchinson. That’s an increase of 448 cases and six deaths since Wednesday.

According to Dr. Smith, four of the 448 new cases are in correctional facilities.

Governor Hutchinson said the majority of the new cases came from Washington County (143), Benton County (78) and Pulaski County (37). The governor said the rest of the counties have fewer than 20 cases.

The governor said 93% of the new Washington County cases are in Springdale.

Dr. Smith said a number of the Washington County cases are from the Latino community. Smith said there’s also household clustering there, with multiple households in the same neighborhood impacted. Smith said poultry businesses are impacted.

Dr. Smith said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will visit Northwest Arkansas and help with the Latino population and getting the message out.

The governor said the rise in cases from Wednesday to Thursday is close to the top.

Smith said there are 3,294 active cases, with 140 in nursing homes, 199 in correctional facilities and 2,955 in communities.

The governor said 187 people are hospitalized in Arkansas due to the coronavirus, which is an increase of six since Wednesday.

The governor also addressed the letter issued Wednesday from a Washington County hospital, saying this is a reminder that this has serious consequences. The governor said the capacity at the northwest Arkansas hospital is sufficient and the amount of personal protective equipment is good too.

State officials say as of Monday, 29% of the active cases were from the Latino community.

According to state officials, 24% of the hospitalizations were Latinos.

Dr. Smith said 45 people are on a ventilator because of COVID-19, which is down four from Wednesday.

According to Smith, 7,351 people have recovered from the virus, which is an increase of 235 from Wednesday.

State officials say 4,914 people were tested in Arkansas Wednesday, and the positivity rate is around 5%, but that could change as results come in.

State officials say 45,063 people have been tested so far this month, and that’s about 1,000 tests ahead of their target. The goal of testing for June in 120,000.

State officials said Arkansas Ready for Learning is a plan for when the new school year begins in August. The plan includes returning to onsite instruction in August, but Dr. Pfeffer said it might be necessary to pivot from onsite learning quickly.

According to Pfeffer, Arkansas Ready for Learning is support to school districts from the state.

Dr. Pfeffer said educators are planning by using what they’ve learned in the crisis.

Pfeffer said this is an opportunity for teachers, parents and students to take part.

The governor says he made the right decision to lift restrictions so there’s no damage others lives in other ways. Hutchinson said it does not diminish the seriousness of the virus and people have to be reminded the virus will be here for a while.

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