By Ray King

The state has now passed the 30,000 mark in cumulative cases of COVID-19 as an additional 564 new cases were reported over the past 24 hours.

At his daily press briefing Wednesday, Governor Asa Hutchinson said that while the 564 new cases were less than the total from the day before, “500 plus is not where we want to be.”

That figure pushes the total number of cases since March to 30,297. Of those, 6,439 are considered active

Hutchinson said an additional 13 people have been hospitalized as a result of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 458. Hospitalizations have increased over the past couple of weeks and the Governor said, “we’ve got to get that number down.”

He conducted his daily update from Conway in Faulkner County and was on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas.

Four additional deaths were reported, raising the state total to 335.

State Health Officer Dr. Nate Smith said Pulaski County had the highest number of cases of any county in the state with 78, followed by Sebastian County with 52, Washington County with 46, and Benton County with 38. No other county in the state had over 20.

The Governor was asked about the results of a survey of parents of school age children who by a wide margin said they were afraid for their children to go back to school because of the possibility of catching COVID-19. He said he had not seen the survey but described the results as a “natural reaction.”

Hutchinson said the State (departments of health and education) had issued guidelines for schools reopening and urged parents and teachers to follow those guidelines. He said if progress is made in reducing cases, the confidence level will increase but if cases continue t o go up, the more nervous parents will get.