By Ray King

After a day with less than 275 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Arkansas on Tuesday, the number of new cases saw a significant increase Wednesday.

At his daily COVID-19 press conference, Governor Asa Hutchinson said there were 734 new cases of the virus, raising the state’s cumulative total to 25,246. Of those, 5,545 are active cases.

The number of people hospitalized dropped by 11 from Tuesday down to 358 and there were four additional deaths, bringing the state total to 305.

Pulaski County had the single highest number of cases with 87, followed by Washington County with 72 and Benton County with 60. Yell County had 46 cases, Mississippi County had 39, Yell County reported 32, Johnson County had 26 and Saline County 21. All the other counties in the state had less than 20 new cases.

Several of the counties reporting 20 or more new cases, including Mississippi and Johnson have previously had lower numbers and the Governor said that just showed no one is immune to the virus.

State Health Officer Dr. Nate Smith said of the new cases, 104 are in correctional settings and the remaining 633 are community based. Later in the press conference, he said that health officials were not able to determine one specific setting where the virus was transmitted from one individual to the other.

The Governor and Steuart Walton, who serves as chairman of the Governor’s Task Force for reopening the economy shared results of a survey that was conducted June 29 and 30 which was conducted June 29 and 30. The survey asked specific questions related to COVID-19. A total of 600 people, all adults over the age of 18 were contacted by phone, 52 percent using a cell number and 48 percent a land line.

Among the survey results, 60 percent said COVID-19 and the economy was the number one issue facing the state. Participants were also asked about their use of personal protective equipment (face coverings) and 82 percent said they use a mask with 16 percent said they did not. The Governor said that while mask wearing has increased, the 82 percent who said they used a mask did not mean that they always used a mask when going out.

On another topic, 59 percent of respondents said they planned to send their child back to school this fall and Walton said that number would probably be close to 100 percent if it were not for COVID-19. Over 50 percent said they would not attend large events like college and professional or kindergarten to 12th grade sporting events.