By Ray King

Testing for every resident and staff member at every nursing home and long-term care facility in Arkansas will begin June 1, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson.

At his daily COVID-19 press briefing, the Governor said the testing will also include Human Development Centers and will result in 40,000 to 50,000 people being tested.

Hutchinson also announced that enhanced payments to workers in those facilities, which was approved by the legislature, will total over $121 million. Some checks have already been sent and payments will continue through the end of May.

In his daily report, the Governor said 110 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the past 24 hours, raising the state’s total to 4,923. Of those, four were in correctional facilities and the remaining 106 were in communities. That number is the second highest so far this year.

State Health Officer Dr. Nate Smith said the largest number of new cases were reported in Pulaski County with 19, followed by Sevier County with 14 and St. Francis County with 13.

A total of 78 people are currently hospitalized, up one from Monday and there have been two additional deaths, raising the total to 102.

Smith said there are 1,082 active cases with 83 of them in nursing homes, 369 in correctional facilities and the remaining 600 plus in com munities.

He also said that testing by the C.D.C. (Centers for Disease Control) at the Federal Correctional Facility at Forrest City has been completed and 585 inmates and 17 staff members tested positive for COVID-19. He said some of those have recovered.