By Ray King

After a day with more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the state neared the century mark again Friday as 990 new cases were reported, bringing the total of cumulative cases statewide to 37,249. Of those, 7,028 are considered active.

At his daily press briefing, Governor Asa Hutchinson said seven counties reported significant numbers of cases, led by Pulaski County which had 144 new cases. Followed by Washington County with 82, Benton County and Newton County with 55 each, Sebastian County with 38 and Jefferson and Pope Counties with 37 each.

Hutchinson said state health officials are currently looking at Newton County where the demographics showed that many of the new cases were elderly, to see if a nursing home or long term care facility was involved.

He said an additional 17 people have been hospitalized, bringing the total to 497. He went on to say that those hospitalizations were in different parts of the state including four in Washington County, four in Benton County, three in Jonesboro and three in North Little Rock so no one single hospital was inundated with a host of new patients.

An additional eight deaths have been reported bringing the state total to 394.

Acting State Health Officer Dr. Jose Romero said of the active cases, 148 were in nursing homes, 552 in correctional facilities and 6,326 in community settings.

The Governor said 8,015 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours with a positivity rate of 8 percent, and said the state has a lot of work to do in order to get the rate down, particularly since school is set to start the week of Aug. 24.

Romero said with the weekend coming up, Arkansans have an opportunity to “change the curve (as it relates to the spread of COVID-19)” by wearing masks and practicing social distancing. He went on to say that could happen in two weeks if those practices were followed.”