LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – At his weekly news briefing, Gov. Hutchinson discussed the current upswing in COVID-19 cases, specifically the omicron variant, the demand for at-home tests and the new CDC guidelines.
Hutchinson announced the addition of nearly 5,000 new cases in Arkansas Thursday. This is the largest single-day jump in cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
He also said that the positivity rate right now is 19.7 percent, which is the highest number reported since the beginning of the pandemic.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, the natural state saw 4,978 new cases in a 24-hour window. This increase pushed the total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic to 562,529.
The ADH reported 4,031 active cases since the previous day, making the total number of active cases 18,644.
The data also show 18 more deaths since the day before, pushing the number of Arkansans who have died of COVID-19 complications to 9,131.
According to the figures, 9,625 doses of vaccines were given in the last 24 hours, increasing the number of Arkansans who are fully immunized to 1,504,510.
Currently, 585 people are hospitalized because of COVID-19, the ADH said. This number did not change from the previous day. The number of patients on ventilators dropped by 6 from the day before, lowering the number of patients currently on ventilators to 104.
The ADH reported that Pulaski County is still the county with the largest increase of new cases, with 1,158 cases added today.
Gov. Hutchinson has already directed the Arkansas Department of Health to acquire 1.5 million rapid at-home tests to be available for free for Arkansans. The test will be available at public local libraries, public health units, and other locations. The National Guard will be helping in the delivery of these at-home tests.
“If we can utilize our rapid tests in a more efficient manner across the state that will be a benefit in early detection, early action, and also relieving some of the burdens on our health care workers,” Governor Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson said that Arkansas has adopted the new CDC guidelines passed down earlier this week for the best course of action for those who do test positive for COVID-19.
• Stay at home for 5 days.
• If you have no symptoms, or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days you can leave your house.
• Continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.
Anyone exposed to someone with COVID-19 and who has completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over 6 months ago and are not boosted OR completed the primary series of J&J over 2 months and are not boosted OR are unvaccinated:
• Stay home for 5 days. After that continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.
• If you can’t quarantine you must wear a mask for 10 days.
• Test on day 5 if possible.
• If you develop symptoms get a test and stay home.
Anyone exposed to someone with COVID-19 and has been boosted OR completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 6 months OR completed the primary series of J&J vaccine within the last 2 months:
• Wear a mask around others for 10 days.
• Test on day 5, if possible.
• If you develop symptoms get a test and stay home
“This is a significant change that will allow our workers to get back to work quicker, with the right precautions, and allow us to do what is necessary in society,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson also added that Arkansas is committed to in-class instruction and that its important for students to pursue education for their future and their mental health.
He said that schools should do what each district thinks is important for the safety of their school environment and that masks are an option depending on decisions in each school district.
Hutchinson also spoke of the upcoming New Year’s Eve holiday, noting that he will be celebrating with friends who are vaccinated and recommends that others celebrating should do the same.
“I’m not canceling everything in life, but I’m also mindful of omicron,” Governor Hutchinson said. “I encourage everyone to be around vaccinated people, if they aren’t vaccinated everyone should wear a mask and they should socially distance.”