By Ray King

National Guard training which had been planned for this weekend at Fort Chaffee has been cancelled because federal rules don’t allow mass testing for COVID-19.

At his daily press conference Wednesday, Governor Asa Hutchinson said state officials and the adjacent general of the state national guard learned of the regulations which would have allowed testing only of those who showed symptoms of COVID-19.

In his daily update, Hutchinson said there were 420 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the past 24 hours, far fewer than cases reported last week or the early part of this week. There are currently 275 people hospitalized, that’s 15 fewer than on Tuesday and there have been 277 deaths reported.

Lee County had the largest number of cases for any individual county with 69 reported, followed by Pulaski County 49, Washington County with 48, Yell County with 28 and Benton County with 20. No other county in Arkansas had more than 20 and the totals for both Washington and Benton Counties are significantly lower than they have been.

The Governor also used charts to show that reported cases in the 10 counties with the highest population are either on a downward trend or have flattened out. That includes Jefferson County, which was the first county in the state to report a case of COVID-19 back in March and on several different days had more than 100 cases now averages les than 10 new cases per day.

State Health Officer Dr. Nate Smith said that 15,163 people have recovered from COVID-19.

Responding to a previous request, Smith said that of the 1,300 people who have been hospitalized as a result of COVID-19 since March, 177 of them or 13.6 percent have died and another 263 or 20 percent are still hospitalized. The remaining 860 are listed as recovered from the pandemic but may face additional health issues.