824 new cases Monday: State has seen more than 10,000 in two weeks
By Scott Loftis
More than 800 Arkansas residents tested positive for COVID-19 over a 24-hour period, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Monday, bringing the state’s total number of confirmed infections to almost 40,000 since the pandemic began in March.
Speaking at a news conference in Little Rock, Hutchinson announced 824 newly confirmed infections and seven deaths over the previous 24 hours. Hutchinson said 489 Arkansas residents were hospitalized because of COVID-19 as of Monday afternoon.
Altogether, 39,447 Arkansas residents have tested positive for the virus and 408 have died.
The state’s total number of confirmed cases rose by 5,520 from the previous Monday, July 20, a 16.3 percent increase. Over the past two weeks, the total number of confirmed cases has increased by 36.3 percent, with more than 10,000 cases being confirmed during that span. Eighty-five Arkansans have died from the virus in that two-week period.
Of the new cases announced Monday, 62 were in Washington County and 45 were in Benton County. Those totals ranked second and fourth, respectively, among the state’s 75 counties. As of Monday morning, the Arkansas Department of Health reported that 322 cases had been confirmed in Carroll County. Of those, 64 were designated as active cases with 252 recovered and six deaths. The county’s total number of confirmed cases was up by 52 from July 20, while active cases increased by 13.
Carroll County Judge Sam Barr, whose Facebook page announced on July 17 that he had tested positive for the virus, returned to work Monday, the page said.
Dr. Jose Romero, interim director of the Arkansas Department of Health, said the state has 6,674 active cases. As of Monday, he said, 110 Arkansas residents were currently connected to ventilators.
Also at Monday’s news conference, Hutchinson announced that he will allocate $10 million in federal CARES Act funds to provide approximately 20,000 wireless devices with up to 24 months of high-speed unlimited data. The devices will be distributed among the state’s school districts based on their student populations and will allow students to connect to the internet. Hutchinson said he had spoken with legislators and educators who expressed concerns about internet access for students who would prefer online instruction.
“All of this will be free of cost to the families and to the students,” he said.
Johnny Key, commissioner of the Arkansas Department of Education, praised Hutchinson’s work to expand internet access and said the ADE will spend approximately $1 million in CARES Act funds “to purchase a strategic stockpile” of personal protective equipment.
“That way if a school district runs short or has a supply-chain issue, this reserve will help them bridge the gap until they can replenish their supply,” Key said.
Arkansas schools are scheduled to open the week of Aug. 24 after Hutchinson delayed the original start date from Aug. 13.