By Ray King

An additional 163 cases of COVID-19 were reported in Arkansas between Friday and Saturday, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson.

At his daily press briefing, the Governor said the new cases bring the state’s total to 5,775 and according to State Health Officer Dr. Nate Smith, 1,564 of those cases are active. Of the active cases, 509 are in correctional facilities, 88 in nursing homes and the remaining 967 from communities. A total of 4,096 people have recovered.

Specifically, 23 of the new cases were reported in Benton County, most of those in Rogers. Washington County reported 20 new cases, many of them in Springdale. Smith said Yell and Sevier Counties had 17 each, and Pulaski County reported 12. All the remaining counties in the state had less than 10.

There are currently 86 people hospitalized, five more than on Friday and two additional deaths have been reported, bringing the state’s total to 115.

Referring to a graphic which showed the number of cases reported daily, the Governor said it was “clear and evident to me that we had one peak, then a deep dip and a second peak that were about 30 days apart. He went on to say that because of increased testing, more cases of COVID-19 are being identified and even with that, the rate of people testing positive is averaging less than five percent. Federal officials have described a rate of 10 percent or less as successful in fighting the pandemic.

Hutchinson said while the 115 deaths reported as a result of COVID-19 is “tragic,” on a per-capita basis, Arkansas’ death rate is one of the lowest in the country.

Because of the Memorial Day weekend, the Governor said there would be no daily press briefing Sunday and Monday and would resume on Tuesday.