By Ray King

At least one case of COVID-19 has now been reported in all of Arkansas’ 75 counties, State Health Officer Dr. Nate Smith said Monday.

Speaking at the governor’s daily COVID-19 update, Smith said there had been one holdout (county) before the weekend. He did not identify the county and said the case was not an active case.

Reported cases statewide over the past 24 hours declined compared to Saturday and Sunday, Governor Asa Hutchinson said. On Saturday, 587 cases were reported and 605 cases Sunday. For Monday, 439 cases were reported, bringing the cumulative total statewide to 24,253. Of those, 6,127 are active.

There are currently 337 people hospitalized. That’s 12 more than on Sunday and there have been five additional deaths, raising the state total to 292.

Hutchinson said Washington County had the highest number of cases in the state in any individual county with 77. Pulaski County was second with 46, followed by Yell and Benton Counties with 36 each. Faulkner County reported 19 cases, Sebastian County had 18, Crittenden County had 16 and the reset of the counties in the state were under 10.

The Governor also talked about contract tracing and said the state has agreed to a $20 million contract with General Dynamics which will add 350 new contract tracers to 320 who are currently in house at the State Health Department and the state is looking at an additional $20 million contract with another vender that would add an additional 350 contract tracers. Each of those contracts will last a year.

Stephanie Williams, who is Chief of Staff for the Health Department said the agency is trying to accelerate the number of contract tracings it makes and said it would be helpful if callers answered on the first ring. She said callers could verify that the calls are coming from the Health Department which is using the number 877-272-6819 to make calls. Some phones might show the number as 877ARCOV19.

She said the department has received inquiries from people wanting to work as contact tracers and said they should check the General Dynamics website. If people had expressed interest before, she said that information has been furnished to General Dynamics,