State’s numbers continue rapid rise

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

By Scott Loftis

Arkansas’ confirmed cases of COVID-19 are continuing to increase quickly, with Gov. Asa Hutchinson announcing Monday that the state total is nearing 13,000.

During a news conference in Little Rock, Hutchinson said the state had 416 new confirmed cases in a 24-hour period, bringing its total to 12,917. The governor said three Arkansans died of the virus in the previous 24 hours, raising that number to 182. A total of 206 Arkansas residents were hospitalized because of the virus Monday, the most since the outbreak of the pandemic.

“That’s a very important statistic, because as you test more, as you have more cases, the hospitalizations is so key to us,” Hutchinson said.

The state has seen 3,177 new cases in a one-week period — an increase of 32.6 percent since Monday, June 8. There are 4,383 confirmed active cases in the state.

Northwest Arkansas continues to lead the state in new cases, with Hutchinson saying Monday’s total includes 126 new cases in Washington County and 53 in Benton County. Carroll County had a total of 80 confirmed cases as of Monday morning, with 48 active. Those totals had more than doubled from a week earlier, as the county had 38 cases with 19 active on Monday, June 8.

“It’s really at an important time in terms of this pandemic,” Hutchinson said. “We obviously have a significant increase in cases in Northwest Arkansas and we have a temptation to let down our guard, because we’ve been dealing with it for a long time. I hope that everyone knows that we’re taking it seriously and our admonition continues to be to implement our strategy, which is to protect yourself and protect others by social distancing and wearing a mask when you’re out in public. That’s very, very important for us.”

Hutchinson said he expects the number of confirmed cases to continue increasing.

“I expect over the next week, that the cases will continue to go up,” he said. “That’s every expectation that I have, so I don’t believe that we’ve reached this second peak, which very well could be our first peak, and so we need to continue to take this seriously and to make sure that we do everything we can to live but at the same time to control the spread of this virus.”

A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta arrived in Northwest Arkansas over the weekend.

“The CDC is here, in Northwest Arkansas,” Dr. Jose Romero, chief medical officer for the Arkansas Department of Health, said at Monday’s news conference. “They will be looking at cases in the area. They will be attempting to identify links, and they will be assisting us in reaching out to the Hispanic/Latino community with regards to messaging for prevention.”

Hutchinson said more than 7,000 tests were conducted in a 24-hour period before Monday’s news conference. Through the first 14 days of June, more than 68,000 tests were conducted in the state.

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