“This has been a challenging day to say the least,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said to open his press briefing Thursday.
After a dip in new cases Wednesday, Arkansas saw an all-time high of new COVID-19 cases at 261 ― of those cases, 42% are in Benton and Washington counties. In Benton County, 76% of the 85 cases were in Rogers while Washington County saw 80% of their cases in Springdale.
Contrary to the increase in Northwest Arkansas, both Crawford and Sebastian County saw decreases in the number of active cases.
The largest ethnic group impacted by Thursday’s spike was the Latino community. Both Health Secretary Nate Smith and Hutchinson expressed a desire to raise efforts for testing and treatment for Hispanic Arkansans.
The governor pointed out that for every positive case, there are approximately three people they came in contact with who have to be self-isolated or quarantined. For the 261 new cases, nearly 1,000 people are impacted.
According to the governor, he spoke with a hospital administrator in Northwest Arkansas who said they are adequately supplied and are able to take care of the caseload. Smith added that he did not expect as many hospitalizations because the largest group of cases are among people under 18 years old.
Hutchinson maintained that Arkansas will not go backwards in reopening. The governor reiterated the lack of cases related to reopening measures.
The seven day average of new cases was down Thursday, but Hutchinson noted that the numbers of the day will change that average over the weekend.
Even though the positive rate is well below the 10% national rate at 3.3% on Thursday, the governor expressed concern at the spike in new cases.
When asked if he would consider a regional approach to restrictions in order to prevent a larger spike, Hutchinson stated he believed that would not be in the best interest of the state.
The governor emphasized that the statewide approach has worked well for Arkansas so far, and he believes that it will continue to do so.
Hutchinson continued to push for Arkansas to be informed, educated, and use common sense.