By Ray King

While Arkansas recorded one of its lowest days of new COVID-19 cases, the state also saw its largest increase in the number of patients hospitalized on Monday.

At his daily COVID-19 press briefing Tuesday, Governor Asa Hutchinson said there were 259 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the state’s total of cumulative cases to 24,512. Of those, 5,486 are active cases.

The Governor said hospitalizations increased by 32 to 369 and described it as a “lagging indicator of the recent spike in cases recently.”

Nine additional deaths were reported bringing the state’s total to 301 and of those, five of the nine were under the age of 65 while the other four were over 65.

Pulaski County had the highest number of reported cases in the state with 57, followed by Benton County with 26 and Washington with 14.

State Health Officer Dr. Nate Smith said the number of new cases in Benton and Washington Counties have reached a plateau and started to flatten out but that is not the case in Pulaski County where cases are increasing. Asked if there was a common like in the Pulaski County cases, Smith said health officials had not found one.

Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston was also present and said the number of state residents filing for unemployment is decreasing but state officials are starting to see an “uptick” in fraudulent claims for benefits. He said about 14,000 claims for the Pandemic unemployment and 6,000 claims for regular unemployment insurance have been flagged by investigators.

Preston said many of those may be simple fixes like a wrong bank account number of the failure to furnish all the information required.