By Ray King

In what Governor Asa Hutchinson called a “challenging day,” 261 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Arkansas Thursday. That was the largest increase reported in a single day, the Governor said, and all were community based.

There have now been 6,558 cases of COVID-19 reported with 1,830 of them considered as active cases and another 4,583 listed as recovered.

Hutchinson said hospitalizations dropped to 104, that’s four less than on Wednesday and an additional five people have died bringing the state’s total to 125.

Benton County in Northwest Arkansas accounted for 85 of the new cases while Washington County, also in Northwest Arkansas had 25. A total of 22 were reported in Pulaski County.

State Health Officer Dr. Nate Smith said Crittenden County reported 17 cases, there were 12 in Craighead County, all of those in Jonesboro, and 11 in Sevier County. No other county in the state had more than 10 new cases.

Looking specifically at Benton County, Smith said a majority of those cases were in Rogers, while Springdale had the largest number of reported cases in Washington County. In both of those counties, 47 percent of the people testing positive had Spanish surnames.

He went on to say that contact tracing for each of the 261 new case could mean that an additional 992 people, or 2.8 persons for each individual who came in contact with the original person who tested positive would have to be isolated or quarantined for 14 days.

The Governor also talked about testing, saying that over the past 24 hours, 2,966 people had been tested which raised the state’s total for the month to over 67,500. Of those, 3.9 percent tested positive for COVID-19.