19 active cases in county: State’s count up 30 percent since last week
By Scott Loftis
Bolstered by a continuing spike in Northwest Arkansas, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state drew close to 10,000 Monday.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said at a news conference Monday that 9,740 Arkansans have now tested positive for the virus, and 155 have died. The total number of cases represents a 30.9 percent increase from the previous Monday, June 1, when there were 7,443 confirmed cases.
Of the 314 new cases announced Monday, Hutchinson said 86 were in Washington County and 41 were in Benton County. As of Sunday, Carroll County had 38 confirmed cases — an increase of 14 from the previous Sunday. Carroll County’s total includes 19 active cases, 18 recoveries and one death.
“The regions of the state are all at different stages of the epidemic, and their trend lines are different,” Hutchinson said. “Second, the future spread is not predictable. Just like one month ago, we were looking at Benton and Washington County, which had very, very few cases, and now they’ve escalated.”
Arkansas was among seven states that never issued stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, although Hutchinson did close the state’s public schools in March and later instituted other restrictions including prohibiting dine-in restaurant service and severely limiting lodging rentals to out-of-state visitors. The state began gradually easing some of those restrictions on May 4, when there 3,458 confirmed cases in Arkansas. Although the case count has nearly tripled in the five weeks since then, Hutchinson reiterated his opinion Monday that the increase isn’t connected to the easing of restrictions.
“The data shows that the cases are not related to the lifting of restrictions,” he said. “That’s an important fact we continue to monitor.”
Hutchinson said 171 Arkansans were hospitalized because of the virus Monday, an increase of 26 in the previous 24 hours and the highest figure since the pandemic began. State health secretary Dr. Nate Smith said 46 of those individuals were on ventilators Monday.
The state has 2,955 active cases, according to Smith, with 6,630 confirmed cases now listed as recovered.
Arkansas has seen a sharp increase in testing, with Hutchinson setting a goal of 120,000 tests in June. More than 150,000 Arkansas residents have tested negative for the virus.
“Our increased testing helps us to shine the flashlight on where the challenges are that we face in the new cases and how we address those,” the governor said Monday.
Hutchinson stressed that Arkansans should continue to be cautious but said Arkansas’ economic recovery from the pandemic is essential.
“We do know that self-discipline and social discipline is a constant that we need to continue to exercise in the state of Arkansas, regardless of whether the cases go up or the cases go down, and that is true until we get a vaccine,” the governor said. “And then finally, the economy must keep moving, and generating, and creating jobs, and providing people the opportunity to make a living and support their business.”