By Ray King

Arkansas recorded the largest number of COVID-19 cases that have ever been reported with 731 new cases over the past 24 hours, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson.

At his daily COVID-19 briefing Friday, the Governor said there have now been 11,547 cases since March 11, with 3,764 of them currently active.

“I expect the cases to continue to increase until we get a handle on this and reduce the spread,” Hutchison said.

The state also went over the 200 mark in hospitalizations with the addition of 16 new patients Thursday. The current total is 203 and there have been five additional deaths, bringing the state’s total to 176.

Of the new cases, 207 are from correctional facilities, primarily the East Arkansas Regional Center in Lee County.

Again Thursday, Washington County led the state with 220 new cases, followed by Benton County with 91, Madison County, which is next to Washington County with 32, Lee County 32, Pulaski County with 25 and Sebastian County with 24.

The Governor specifically mentioned Tyson Foods which recently tested all 1,102 employees at its Springdale plant and 199 of them tested positive for COVID-19 but only one was symptomatic.

“One hundred 98 showed no symptoms,” Hutchinson said. “Think about where they were before and were not aware they had COVID-19.”