By Ray King

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said Monday he is not ready to make changes to the way that restrictions he imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are addressed.

Last week, the Governor said he was considering a regional approach which would have allowed several regions of the state to move to Phase two of the reopening process, based on the number of cases in the region, and keeping other regions in Phase 1.

In his daily COVID-19 briefing, Hutchinson said that each of the state’s five health regions are all in different stages of the pandemic, and the future spread is not predictable. In addition, he said that current data does not indicate that a recent increase in total cases is related to the reopening of restaurants, gyms and barber and beauty shops last month.

The governor said that maintaining self-discipline and social distancing is critical to moving the state’s economy forward.

In terms of COVID-19 cases, there were 314 new cases of covid-19 reported in the past 24 hours, 86 of them in Washington Count and another 41 in Benton County, both in Northwest Arkansas. Pulaski County in central Arkansas reported 13 new cases while Sebastian County in Northwest Arkansas had 11 new cases.

No other county in Arkansas had more than 10.

There have now been 9,740 cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas with 2,955 of them active. Another 6,630 have recovered.

State Health Officer Dr. Nate Smith said there were 26 people hospitalized which brings the state total to 171 and one additional death occurred, raising the total to 155. He said the number of new patients hospitalized was a concern but that hospitals were not overwhelmed and many of the new patients were younger and more likely to recover quicker.