Governor Asa Hutchinson is pushing for Arkansans to go get tested for COVID-19 beginning today through Saturday. Arkansas added 189 new cases totaling 2,465 cases for the state.
Governor Asa Hutchinson is pushing for Arkansans to go get tested for COVID-19 beginning today through Saturday. Arkansas added 189 new cases totaling 2,465 cases for the state. Of the 189 case increase, 122 came from the Cummins prison unit, which includes both staff and inmates.
According to Arkansas Health Department Secretary Dr. Nate Smith, 687 inmates and 35 staff at Cummins Prison have now tested positive for COVID-19.
While 902 recoveries are recorded as of Thursday afternoon for the state of Arkansas, 1,563 cases still remain active.
Three new deaths bring the state’s total to 45. 101 patients are hospitalized with 24 on ventilators.
During Thursday’s COVID-19 update, Hutchinson announced the Arkansas Surge Campaign, a new 2-day campaign to encourage people to go get tested. Hutchinson said the goal is to increase the testing in the state from 1,000 to 1,500.
Testing is for any Arkansan who has symptoms, those with a history of exposure, those who had contact with a known positive case and those who have traveled to or from a hot spot community area.
Earlier this week Hutchinson announced he had put together a working group that would make recommendations to expand the capacity and performance of COVID-19 testing in the state.
“Arkansas’s ability to conduct adequate diagnostic and surveillance testing will affect the state’s public-health strategy and economic-recovery efforts after Arkansas reaches its peak number of COVID-19 cases,” Governor Hutchinson said. “As we prepare to shift Arkansas’s economy out of low gear, it is important for us to have more comprehensive information about the spread of COVID-19 in the state.”
Hutchinson is asking all hospitals and clinics to comply stating both are in good shape to test with adequate testing supplies available.
With increased testing Hutchinson said that will allow the state to utilize their resources at full capacity and identity positive COVID-19 cases in the community.
“This broadens the category of those who can go get tested,” said Hutchinson.
Primarily testing was only done to those who were symptomatic but now according to Hutchinson, anyone who has been exposed, symptoms or not, should get tested.
Nursing homes residents have increased to 174 and still remain a priority when it comes to testing.
With the May 4 soft opening date for Arkansas approaching, Hutchinson was made aware that even with the removal of the Cummins unit cases from the daily state totals, Arkansas numbers were still increasing.
The Proposes State or Regional Gating Criteria, directed by the White House, involves satisfying three topics before proceeding to phase one of the three comeback plans.
Symptoms must have a downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) reported within a 14-day period and a downward trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period.
Cases must have a downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period or downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period (flat or increasing volume of tests).
Lastly, hospitals must be able to treat all patients without crisis care and have a robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing.
Once a state or region satisfies that criteria they may move into phase 1 according to the White House Guidelines.
“The states have flexibility to determine their own criteria and what makes sense in their state,” said Hutchinson. “There’s multiple different criteria as part of entering into phase one. As far as where we are as far as the 14 day decline in the number of cases, May 4 is closer than 14 days and we have had a couple of days in which our cases have gone up.”
Hutchinson adds he is going to look at the multitude of factors as he makes that decision and he is going to rely upon his public health experts as he makes those final decisions, with the first one being next week.