State’s cases increase 19 percent in week: NWA remains hot spot as hospitalizations reach 439

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

By Scott Loftis

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arkansas continues to increase rapidly, along with the number of Arkansans hospitalized with the virus.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Monday that 572 Arkansas residents had tested positive for COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours, while hospitalizations increased by 19 to 439 — the state’s highest hospitalization count since the pandemic began in March.

Two Arkansans died from COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours, Hutchinson said, raising the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the state to 323.

Monday marked the 10th time in 12 days that Arkansas saw at least 500 new confirmed cases — including a record 1,061 new cases reported Saturday, July 11.

The state’s total case count reached 28,939 Monday. That represents an increase of 19.3 percent from the previous Monday, July 6. In that same time span, hospitalizations increased by 30.3 percent and 31 Arkansans died.

As of Monday morning, the Arkansas Department of Health reported a total of 228 confirmed cases in Carroll County, with 46 active cases, 176 recovered and six deaths. While the number of confirmed cases was 20 percent higher than the previous Monday, the number of active cases had decreased by one. The state reported one new COVID-19 death in Carroll County over the past week. An ADH “occupations cluster reports” said seven of the active cases were connected to the Tyson Foods facility in Green Forest.

Northwest Arkansas continues to be an area of concern. Washington County had the state’s second-highest total of new cases announced Monday with 53, trailing only Pulaski County. Over the past three days, Washington County has had 211 new cases and Benton County has added 133. And Northwest Arkansas was by far the region of the state with the most hospitalizations, at around 140.

Still, Hutchinson said hospital capacity has not reached a red line.

“I want to assure everybody that we have adequate hospital capacity to meet the needs of our citizens,” he said.

Both Hutchinson and state health secretary Dr. Nate Smith reiterated Monday the importance of wearing masks to help slow the spread of the virus.

“While there is a debate about, how do you accomplish encouraging and getting people to wear masks, what we are in total agreement on is that a mask is the one tool that we have to reduce the spread of the virus, to be able to give ourselves the ability to be out and to move in public without spreading the virus,” Hutchinson said. “And so the mask is something that we want to continue to impress upon Arkansans that that will make a difference for us.”

“What I’ve heard some people say and apparently on social media as well, is that masks don’t work, they don’t protect you against COVID-19,” Smith said. “Some of these surgical masks, if you read, it will say: ‘Does not protect against COVID-19.’ I want to help people understand what that means, and why it’s still important that we wear masks. … These surgical masks, or cloth masks, they are designed for source control. A surgeon wears it to keep their germs from getting in your surgical wound, and they work very well for that. And so if everyone is wearing a mask, we’re keeping our respiratory secretions to ourselves, preventing them from becoming airborne, and they work very well for protecting groups of people, populations against COVID-19. … If we can get everyone to wear those masks, then we’re all protected.”

Hutchinson briefly mentioned former governor and U.S. senator David Pryor, who was hospitalized Monday at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences after he and his wife both tested positive for the virus.

“It just illustrates that no one is immune from the virus,” Hutchinson said.

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