By Ray King
More than 4,000 tests for COVID-19 were conducted in Arkansas in the past 24 hours, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson. That was the second largest number of tests in a single day and the state has now more than 66,000 people since Hutchinson called for testing 60,000 by the end of May.
The Governor took his daily press briefing on the road Wednesday, visiting Craighead County and the City of Jonesboro where he reported that of those tested, 1.9 percent tested positive.
There were 97 new case of COVID-19 reported, the Governor said, bringing the state’s total so far this year to 6,277. Of those, 1,733 are considered active and another 4,424 people have recovered. There are 108 people hospitalized, that’s one more than on Tuesday and one additional death bringing the state total to 120.
State Health Officer Dr. Nate Smith said of the active cases, 68 are in nursing homes, 466 in correctional facilities and the remaining 1,199 in communities. He went on to say that there was no connection between the increase in hospitalizations and the lifting of restrictions over the past couple of weeks.
In his remarks, Hutchinson said that cases in the 0-17 age group between May 17 and May 23 increased from 190 to 278, a 46-percent hike while cases in the 65 and over age group, the groups most vulnerable to COVID-19 increased 15 percent.
He said those under 17 can be carriers and impact those in the most vulnerable age group.
“We want them to think and do something that teenagers do not normally do and that’s be careful,” Hutchinson said.
Asked how the state was preparing for the fall and flu season while still dealing with COVID-19, the Governor said the state was looking at October, November and December and building the infrastructure that will let people “live their life and do business. “ He went on to say that included increasing contact tracing and providing greater resources for testing.