Northwest Arkansas is state hot spot: Carroll County sees 1st COVID-19 death
By Scott Loftis
A Carroll County resident died last week from COVID-19, the Arkansas Department of Health reported.
The death, the county’s first attributed to COVID-19, was reported on the health department’s website on Friday, May 29.
No details about the victim were released.
As of Monday, June 1, the health department listed 25 total cases in Carroll County — an increase of 15 from the previous Sunday, May 24. In addition to the single death, that number includes seven cases listed as recovered and 17 active cases.
The sharp uptick in Carroll County mirrors a trend across Northwest Arkansas, where officials say the virus is now spreading faster than any other part of the state.
“Forever, it seemed like Northwest (Arkansas) was under 20 cases a day in terms of new cases and you were looking at the rest of the state and said ‘What’s wrong with y’all? We don’t have a problem up here. We don’t need any restrictions,’ ” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during a news conference Monday at Mercy hospital in Rogers. “And you can see what’s happened. And it’s simply a reminder that this virus rolls across the state in sometimes different time frames in every region of the state. And so you cannot take it for granted. You cannot say ‘Well, we’re past that.’ It’s a matter of constant vigilance that we have to have.”
Altogether, Hutchinson said Tuesday, 7,818 Arkansas residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and 136 have died. In a seven-day span beginning Tuesday, May 26, the state has reported 1,638 new cases — an increase of 26.5 percent — and 14 deaths. The new cases include 375 announced Tuesday. Only one of those new cases was inside a correctional facility, with the 374 “community” cases representing the highest one-day total so far in the state.
Hutchinson said he met with community leaders from Northwest Arkansas during his visit to Rogers on Monday and also met with officials from poultry processing companies. The poultry industry has been hit hard by the virus, with 571 poultry workers in the state testing positive for COVID-19.
But Hutchinson praised the poultry companies’ efforts to slow the spread of the virus. Among others, he singled out Springdale-based Tyson Foods — the largest employer in Carroll County with plants in Berryville and Green Forest.
“Tyson’s is moving to testing every worker in the plants in Northwest Arkansas,” Hutchinson said.
Since May 4, when Arkansas began a gradual lifting of virus-related restrictions, the state’s case count has more than doubled, from 3,458 to 7,818, but Hutchinson said Monday that there is no evidence that the two are connected.
“We have to learn to manage our way through this crisis,” he said. “When I say that, I’m talking about managing the risk, making sure that we can go to work, we can go to school, we can have our normal life in terms of activities and necessary functions but at the same time being safe, health-wise. … We can’t be restricted forever.”