Gov. Hutchinson announces record-breaking 2,312 COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, creates winter task force

Coronavirus

UPDATE:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (FOX16)- Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Friday afternoon there are an additional 2,312 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases within the last 24 hours.

Governor Hutchinson also said there are an additional 21 hospitalizations, bringing the state’s total to 826 hospitalizations as of Friday, which is a record.

Hutchinson said he has created a Coronavirus Winter Task Force.

The governor said he will be the chair and Dr. Greg Bledsoe will be the vice-chair. Other medical experts on the task force are Secretary of Health Dr. José Romero, Washington Regional Medical Center President and CEO Larry Shackelford, UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson, Arkansas Health Care Association Executive Director Rachel Bunch, Arkansas Hospital Association President and CEO Bo Ryall Baptist Health President and CEO Troy Wells, Major General Kendall Penn with the Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management A.J. Gary, State Epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, Dr. Naveen Patil with UAMS and others. Governor Hutchinson said more people could be added to the task force as needed.

Hutchinson said the first meeting will be Monday at 8 a.m. and is a private meeting.

The governor said the winter months pose a particular challenge.

According to Governor Hutchinson, the task force will determine how to better coordinate the virus caseload across the state, how to increase staff resources, increase compliance with the mask mandate.

Hutchinson said the percentage of what is being used in hospitals is slowly increasing.

The governor said as of Friday:

  • 28% of ICU beds have COVID-19 patients
  • 8.9% of hospital beds have COVID-19 patients
  • 29.8% of people on ventilators are patients with COVID-19

Governor Hutchinson says he has authorized 30 members of the national guard to help the Department of Health in contact tracing and case investigations.

Governor Hutchinson also said during the news conference he wanted to express deep sadness and heartache in the fatal shooting of Helena-West Helena officer Travis Wallace. Hutchinson also announced he has signed a proclamation lowering the state flag until Wallace’s memorial service.

ORIGINAL STORY:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Governor Asa Hutchinson will make “an announcement related to COVID-19” on Friday at 12 p.m., according to a media advisory issued by the governor’s office on Thursday.

Hutchinson did not provide details Thursday on specifics of the announcement. The Republican governor hosts his weekly COVID-19 updates on Tuesdays.

Hutchinson has repeatedly resisted calls to implement additional restrictions on businesses in Arkansas as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to surge statewide.

According to the Associated Press, the governor said Thursday in a discussion with the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI) and the Arkansas Municipal League that a lack of hospital space would the only thing that would trigger more stringent restrictions.

“The only thing that will trigger anything is that if we don’t have any hospital space to deal with,” Hutchinson said. “Then you have to start making some very, very difficult decisions that you don’t want to have to make.”

The ACHI discussion can be viewed in its entirety below:

As of Thursday, November 12, there were 805 patients hospitalized with the virus in Arkansas, including 116 people on ventilators.

About 26% of the state’s 9,144 hospital beds and nearly 8% of its 1,080 intensive care unit beds are available, according to an Associated Press review of Department of Health data.

Hutchinson’s announcement will be live-streamed on the governor’s YouTube page on Friday at noon: https://www.youtube.com/c/GovernorAsaHutchinson/live.

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