State’s numbers continue rapid rise

Thursday, June 18, 2020

By Scott Loftis

Arkansas’ confirmed cases of COVID-19 are continuing to increase quickly, with Gov. Asa Hutchinson announcing Tuesday that the state total has topped 13,000.

During a news conference in Hot Springs, Hutchinson said the state had 274 new confirmed cases in a 24-hour period, bringing its total to 13,191. The governor said six Arkansans died of the virus in the previous 24 hours, raising that number to 188. A total of 214 Arkansas residents were hospitalized because of the virus Tuesday, the most since the outbreak of the pandemic.

The state has seen 3,111 new cases in a one-week period — an increase of 30.9 percent since Tuesday, June 9. Over a two-week span since June 2, there have been 5,373 new cases. That represents a two-week increase of 68.7 percent.

Northwest Arkansas continues to lead the state in new cases, with Hutchinson saying during a news conference Monday in Little Rock that 126 new cases in Washington County and 53 in Benton County had been confirmed in the previous 24 hours.

Carroll County had a total of 88 confirmed cases as of Tuesday morning, with 55 active. Those totals had more than doubled from a week earlier, as the county had 40 cases with 16 active on Wednesday, June 10.

“It’s really at an important time in terms of this pandemic,” Hutchinson said Monday. “We obviously have a significant increase in cases in Northwest Arkansas and we have a temptation to let down our guard, because we’ve been dealing with it for a long time. I hope that everyone knows that we’re taking it seriously and our admonition continues to be to implement our strategy, which is to protect yourself and protect others by social distancing and wearing a mask when you’re out in public. That’s very, very important for us.”

Hutchinson said he expects the number of confirmed cases to continue increasing.

“I expect over the next week, that the cases will continue to go up,” he said Monday. “That’s every expectation that I have, so I don’t believe that we’ve reached this second peak, which very well could be our first peak, and so we need to continue to take this seriously and to make sure that we do everything we can to live but at the same time to control the spread of this virus.”

A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta arrived in Northwest Arkansas over the weekend.

“The CDC is here, in Northwest Arkansas,” Dr. Jose Romero, chief medical officer for the Arkansas Department of Health, said at Monday’s news conference. “They will be looking at cases in the area. They will be attempting to identify links, and they will be assisting us in reaching out to the Hispanic/Latino community with regards to messaging for prevention.”

Hutchinson said more than 4,000 tests were conducted in a 24-hour period before Tuesday’s news conference. Through the first 15 days of June, more than 72,000 tests were conducted in the state.

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