Tuesday saw another all-time high of new COVID-19 cases in Arkansas with 374 new positive tests. This number does not include the one new case in a correctional facility.
With the rise in cases, the number of hospitalizations reached 132, another high for the state. There were 31 patients on a ventilator on Tuesday.
While there were no new deaths on Monday, there were three COVID-19 deaths by the time Gov. Asa Hutchinson presented his daily briefing. It brought the total number of deaths from COVID-19 in Arkansas to 136 since the coronavirus pandemic began.
On Tuesday, the number of positive cases reached 7,818 with 2,115 of those being currently active. With 73 active cases in nursing homes and 53 in correctional facilities, there were 1,989 cases currently in the community.
This spike in new cases lead to the continued rise of the seven-day rolling average at a sharper rate than the previous peak.
Hutchinson shared the official new goal for testing in June to be 120,000 tests, 50,000 of which would be in nursing homes. While this goal was commended at the federal level, it would require 1% of Arkansans to be tested each week.
Alma testing site opens
In an effort to help Hutchinson reach the goal of 60,000 COVID-19 test for the month of June, and to provide a service for citizens of Alma and the surrounding area, the City of Alma announced Tuesday it would be in partnership with River Valley Primary Care Services to have a mobile COVID-19 testing site located at the parking lot of CV’s (corner of Highway 64 and U.S. 71 North) between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
This is drive-thru testing site, with no symptoms and no appointments required, and no out-of-pocket expense, a City of Alma news release states.
Hutchinson briefly commented Tuesday on the protests occurring across the state and nation. He noted one protest was peaceful until about 10 p.m. Monday when people turned to violence and vandalism.
When showing a picture of the protests in Benton County, Hutchinson stated that while social distancing is difficult, most of the protesters were wearing masks which meant they were taking the virus seriously.
Hutchinson was not willing to speak on behalf of the protesters in relation to their motivation and could not say if there was a correlation to that and the increase in minority COVID-19 cases.
The governor highlighted the plan to invest in improving minority healthcare. Interim Arkansas Health Secretary Jose Romero took the opportunity to remind the community that testing is free.
Hutchinson was asked about the protests on the national level and if President Donald Trump has requested any Arkansas troops to be deployed to Washington, D.C., in response. The governor said that Arkansas has not asked for federal aid and neither had the federal government asked for aid from Arkansas.
Health Secretary Nate Smith urged those who are “part of the protest (to) still be mindful of risks to you and others.”
Hutchinson spent Monday evening at the command center where he said it “taught me the complexities of it all” when it comes to responding to protests.
As of Tuesday, there was no correlation between the protests and the rise in cases, but tests in the coming days will paint a more accurate picture. Smith admitted that, if that does happen, contact tracing will be next to impossible.