By Ray King

Reported cases of COVID-19 and deaths doubled after the Memorial Day Holiday and State Health Officer Dr. Nate Smith said Tuesday that if the state learned nothing from that holiday, it’s likely the same thing will happen over the 4th of July holiday.

Smith made the comment during Governor Asa Hutchinson’s daily COVID-19 update which took place at on the campus of Arkansas State University at Mountain Home.

“You set in motion chains of transmission and you don’t know where they will end up,” Smith said.

His comments followed those of the Governor who said that an increase in cases could occur people don’t practice social distancing and other health related activities.

“They need to be mindful over the 4th and how they celebrate,” Hutchinson said. “They need to be smart this holiday.”

On Monday, there were 16.083 cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas and over the past 24 hours, another 595 cases were reported, bringing the new total to 16,678. Of those, 5,221 are active cases and 11,220 people have recovered.

Of the new cases, 212 were in correctional facilities with 188 of them being detainees at the Benton County Jail. A total of 13 staff members at that jail also tested positive. The remainder were from the Ouachita Valley Correctional Facility at Malvern.

There are 248 people hospitalized and 237 deaths have been reported.

Hutchinson also talked about a model prepared by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) which is predicting that the state will peak at 133,000 cases of COVID-19 around the end of September, then cases will start to fall. The study is also predicting that over 3,300 people will be hospitalized.

He said that the model is based on the premise that the state continues to follow its current trajectory.

“Our goal is to change that trajectory,” Hutchinson said, ‘through massive testing, contact tracing and isolation.”
He said those areas are being handled by the Health Department but citizens need to do their part by practicing social distancing and wearing masks.