Three more COVID-19 deaths brought the state’s total to 37, it was announced Thursday afternoon as COVID-19 cases reach 1,620.

Three more COVID-19 deaths brought the state’s total to 37, it was announced Thursday afternoon as COVID-19 cases reach 1,620.

Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith reported out of the 1,620 cases, 1035 were active during Governor Asa Hutchinson’s COVD-19 press conference Thursday.

There are 85 Arkansans currently hospitalized with COVID-19 with 21 on ventilators. Smith reported 548 recoveries with 81 of those being healthcare workers.

The Cummins Unit update from last week had revealed 43 of 46 inmates had tested positive, and on Thursday, Smith reported there were 46 positive COVID-19 cases, all inmates, at the Cummins Unit but he did not have the most updated numbers.

Hutchinson said hospitalizations have been steady and he was proud of Arkansans for following the guidance and directives.

Smith states the top underlying conditions associated with the COVID-19 hypertension. He also names type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease as the top two underlying conditions for hospitalizing COVID-19 patients.

Unemployment was also discussed during Thursday’s press conference as Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston announced a new website for individuals to access who were seeking unemployment benefits.

By going to www.arunemployment.com, individuals can obtain information for benefits and be directed to the system to file their claim.

Those who want updates on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance can fill out a contact form online by going to bit.ly/3e5ZWd.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program is separate from the regular unemployment insurance program, which will continue to operate.

PUA is designed for individuals who are not eligible for regular and extended benefits, or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). This could include independent contractors, self-employed, agricultural workers, etc.

More information on when and how to apply for PUA will be released by the end of the month by the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services.

Preston said his office has extended their hours from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. but will stop calls at 4 p.m. to make sure all callers are taken care of by his staff. Preston adds he is also working to add a chat box to the website for online assistance.

A total of 14,803 business had been approved for the Small Business Association loan according to Preston and Hutchinson reported nearly 150,000 unemployment claims in Arkansas were filed and processed for those affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Hutchinson said his wish list is to get hospitals back in business. With the low number of hospitalizations, Hutchinson said it would be ideal but will wait until he receives guidance from the White House and his medical team.

Hutchinson said his committee will be providing long-term guidance and solutions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic because without an immunization in place, he worries the threat could return back next year.

Dr. Smith explained because there isn’t a vaccine, Arkansans have to continue to social distance and not gather in large groups.