By Ray King

Governor Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday said there was “lots of good news” over the Memorial Day Holiday weekend and said a vast majority of people paid attention to guidelines for social distancing and wearing a mask.

“More than a few however placed their own comfort and convenience above others,” he said. “The direction we go from here depends on the discipline and commitment of the people of Arkansas.

The Governor made the comments during his daily COVID-19 press briefing at the state capitol. In the past 24 hours, 151 new cases of the virus were reported with 150 of them in community settings and one in a correctional facility. Since the first case of COVID-19 in early March, a total of 6,180 cases have been reported.

State Health Officer Dr. Nate Smith said 1,729 of the cases are active, with 72 of them in nursing homes, 466 in correctional facilities and the remaining 1,191 in communities. He said Washington County had the highest number of reported cases with 29, followed by Sevier County with 17, Benton County with 16 and St. Frances County with 13. All the remaining counties in the state had 10 or less.

He went on to say that health officials have determined that 301 cases were associated with the poultry industry, primarily in Northwest Arkansas. Benton County had 69 cases, Yell County had 54, Washington County had 44 and there were also cases reported in Sevier and Pope Counties.

Smith said of the 150 new community cases, 42 percent or 63 total cases involved Hispanics, who account for only 10.2 percent of the total number of cases reported. He said additional efforts are being made to test the Hispanic population and additional funds will be spent on marketing that testing.

Hutchinson also announced that Smith, who is the State Secretary of Health will be leaving Arkansas and has accepted a position with the Federal Centers for Disease Control (C.D.C.) in Atlanta. His last day with the state will be Aug. 28. Dr. Jose Romero has been named the interim Secretary of Health.