By Ray King

On the same day that Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that team sports and overnight summer camps can resume, he also announced the largest increase in the number of reported cases of COVID-19 in a single day.

At his daily press conference Thursday, the Governor said between Wednesday and Thursday there were 455 cases of COVID-19 reported with 229 of them stemming from the Federal Correctional Facility in Forrest City and the remaining 226 from communities. The governor said those communities were spread out with 33 reported in Yell County, 27 in Benton County, 26 in Washington County and 19 in Union County.

State Health Officer Dr. Nate Smith said there were also 17 cases reported in both Craighead and Crittenden Counties and 13 each in Pulaski and Pope Counties.

He said cases from the federal prison were not new cases but rather cases that were just now getting into the reporting system.

With the 455 new cases, the state’s total stands at 5,458 with 1,433 of the listed as active. Of the active cases, 543 are from correctional facilities, 94 from nursing homes and the remaining 796 from communities. Smith said 3,915 people have recovered.

There are 86 people hospitalized, that’s seven more than on Wednesday and three additional deaths were reported bringing the state’s total to 110.

Hutchinson said 2,616 people were tested on Wednesday and 4.4 percent of them tested positive for COVID-19 which is well below the 10 percent the goal of the C.D.C. (Centers for Disease Control).

Both the Governor and Smith also attributed to additional testing and Smith said testing is now being conducted every day at county health departments across the state. Additionally, mass testing is planned in specific locations including in Jefferson County on May 30.

Asked if the increase in positive cases gave him pause in some of the directives that have been relaxed and the return of summer camps and youth team sports, the Governor said that the state carefully phased in the actions that it has taken and lifted the directions gradually. He said the state never adopted a shelter in place policy and now the goal is to manage the economy and stop the spread of COVID-19.