By: Luke Matheson

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Governor Asa Hutchinson updated the Coronavirus numbers at his daily press conference Tuesday after noon. As of the time of the press conference Arkansas had 523 positive cases with 64 patients requiring hospitalization.

Arkansas has also had another death related to the virus, bringing the total number of deaths up to eight.

Additionally, 35 people have recovered from the coronavirus in Arkansas.

Hutchinson noted that a New York Times story that was recently released showing Arkansas is behind the curb when it comes to testing for the virus is out of date. He stated that over 5,000 tests have been conducted in Arkansas, while the Times article said that only around 1100 tests have been conducted in the state.

Hutchinson also stated that social Distancing is helping lower the curve in Arkansas.

“We have lowered that trend line, so we are under where we are projected to be,” said Hutchinson. “We are now at 500 [positive cases], but we were projected to be at 1,000. We are having success in our social distancing.”

“This [could help] get us out of this crisis more quickly, and that is the objective,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson also stated that he is looking at several options, to include possibly closing state parks and campgrounds due to a large number of out of state visitors from designated “hot spot” areas. Those visitors are congregating in large numbers are several state and national parks.

“I am concerned about out of state visitors,” said Hutchinson. “Congregations of large numbers of people are along the Buffalo River and in our state parks. A number of out of state travelers are creating the issues. Some are coming from hot spots we want to limit and restrict. I have directed my administration to look at ways to curtail out of state travelers to state parks. It may take closing state parks to control this.”

Hutchinson said he is in contact with federal representatives regarding the national parks in Arkansas as well.

“We are in communication with the national parks,” said Hutchinson. We have requests from local officials in Newton county for help. We are going to work with the national park service, and I expect decisions to be made soon.”

Additionally, Hutchinson announced that 40 additional Air and Army National Guard personnel have been activated to assist with COVID-19 efforts across the state.

Hutchinson has also signed executive order which suspends notary action in person. The order allows notary and wills to be conducted by visual means, allowing those that need a will to be able to get it done even though they might be in isolation or other limitations.

There is also a focus is on continuing education. Hutchinson said tht the state is working with AETN to make sure the state can get courses to people who do not have high speed internet that they need in order to participate in online courses.

Hutchinson also said a decision will be coming next week regarding the closure of schools across the state.

“We will make a decision next week with where we need to be,” said Hutchinson. “With the direction the president has made we have to look at seeing if we can have inside instruction after April 17.”