By Ray King

Governor Asa Hutchinson on Saturday announced that nearly 4,000 people in the state have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus since testing began in March.

At his daily press update, the Governor said there were 237 new cases in the past 24 hours with 173 of them from the Federal Correctional Facility in Forrest City. The state total is now 3,984.

State Health Officer Dr. Nate Smith said the cases from Forrest City were not new cases and the C.D.C. (Centers for Disease Control) had previously reported them to state officials but they have now been put in the system.

There are currently 837 active cases. Of those, 275 are from correctional facilities, 88 from nursing homes and 474 from the community.

Sixty-four people have been hospitalized and there have been two additional deaths, bringing the state’s total to 90. Of those 90 deaths, 37 were at nursing homes.

The State Health Department reported that 65,528 people have now been tested for COVID-19 and 61,781 of them tested negative. Just over 3,000 people have recovered from the virus, Smith said.

Hutchinson also announced that to be consistent, the Health Department has revised their guidelines for large indoor and outdoor venues to match guidelines issues for the state’s three casino’s which are limited to 33 percent of capacity.

The previous guidelines for indoor and outdoor venues allowed no more than 50 people.

Smith said the new guidelines will permit those venues to use 33 percent of their capacity, but a written plan detailing how social distancing will be maintained must be submitted to the Health Department for approval.

“Under 50 people no written plan,” Smith said. “Over 50 people a written plan that has to be approved.”

The Governor also announced that the state issued 92,000 unemployment checks last Monday and he expected that number to increase to 100,000 this Monday.