By Ray King

Arkansas recorded its largest single day number of reported cases of COVID-19 during the past 24 hours with 1,013 new cases reported. An additional five cases were reported in correctional facilities, bring the state’s cumulative total to 36,259. Of those, 7,009 are considered active cases.

At his daily COVID-19 press conference, Governor Asa Hutchinson said there are currently 480 people hospitalized, that’s six more that there were on Wednesday and an additional six deaths have been reported, bringing the state total to 386.

Pulaski County had the highest number of new cases of any county in the state with 113, followed by Washington County with 76, Benton County with 73, Sebastian County 65, Crittenden County with 43 and Craighead with 41. The Governor said there are a number of other counties who are reporting 25 or more cases.

The Governor also talked about cases within the state correction system, saying that there are 841 active cases of COVID-19 currently, with 577 of them at the Ouachita River Correctional Facility at Malvern. Another 62 active cases are at the Cummins Unit and there are 20 active cases at the Tucker Unit.

Hutchinson said the Ouachita River Unit houses prisoners with special needs, medical conditions, mental health issues and has served as the intake unit for new prisoners. He said the prison population has medical issues which will result in increased hospitalizations. The Ouachita Rover Unit has a capacity of 1,900 and currently, there are 1,732 inmates housed there.

Since March, 4,655 inmates and staff in correctional facilities have tested positive for COVID-19 with 869 cases currently active and 3,765 who have recovered. There have been 21 deaths of inmates from COVID-19.

At his press conference, the Governor also announced that Solomon Graves, who is currently serving as Chief of Staff for the Corrections Department will be the next Secretary of Corrections. Payne will replace current Secretary Wendy Kelley who announced last month she would be retiring. Hutchinson said he would forward Graves’ name to the  correction board for their approval.