LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas saw a state record-setting 42 deaths and 861 hospitalizations of people with COVID-19 on Monday, the day a newly-formed state coronavirus task force met for the first time.
The state also reported 1,308 new cases, raising the total number so far to 134,348, with 16,485 active cases. The state reported a death toll so far of 2,225.
The true number of infections is likely higher because many people haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
Against that backdrop, the Winter COVID-19 Task Force began discussions on how to deal with the state’s surge in cases and hospitalizations from the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.
The task force includes 19 physicians, state officials and health care executives. Hutchinson chairs the panel with Dr. Greg Bledsoe, the state surgeon general, serving as vice-chair.
Hutchinson announced the panel’s creation Friday when the state reported a single-day record of 2,312 new cases.
“The new cases are higher than last Monday, and this may be an indication we are in for a tough week ahead,” Hutchinson said in a statement.
“The 42 new deaths is regrettably an all-time high in a single day,” he said. “While there is good news on the vaccine front this morning, we have to work together to reduce cases, hospitalizations and save lives.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and a cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.