“Phase 2 is on pause for now,” said Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “The hospitalizations, we watch very carefully, it's not to the level near that we would have a concern on the access and sufficient hospital capacity but that's one factor that we watch.”
In the early part of May, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said Arkansas was not prepared to move into Phase 2 of reopening.
During Tuesday’s press conference he stated it again.
As of Wednesday as the Pine Bluff Commercial was preparing for press on its Thursday edition, Arkansas has 2,115 active cases.
During Tuesday’s press conference, Gov. Hutchinson announced 375 new cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas, the highest number of new community cases in one day.
Arkansas also saw an increase in hospitalizations with 11, bringing the total to 132. This is the highest number of hospitalizations the state has seen since the beginning of COVID-19.
“Phase 2 is on pause for now,” said Hutchinson. “The hospitalizations, we watch very carefully, it’s not to the level near that we would have a concern on the access and sufficient hospital capacity but that’s one factor that we watch.”
Hutchinson said even though he looks at moving to phase two all the time, it is not appropriate to open up into phase two until he has more data and more confidence.
According to the Opening Up America Again Guideline, schools and organized youth activities such as camps can reopen.
Large venues such as movie theaters and sporting venues could operate under moderate physical distancing protocols.
Many of the phase two guidelines suggested by the White House, Arkansas implemented into phase one, such as reopening of sit-down dining, resuming elective surgeries, and the reopening gyms and bars.
Even though the capacity of reopening was at 33 percent, many felt Arkansas was moving to soon with only one percent of the population tested during the time reopening began in May.
If all would of went well, the state would enter into phase two with a 67 percent capacity, then finally resume 100 percent capacity later on in the year.
As more tests are administered and positive COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Arkansans will have to get used to their new normal for a while.
“I’ve had communication from various parts of the state and they say well our caseload is low. We don’t have very many cases so can you just open us up and let us go to phase 2,” explained Hutchinson who pointed out two weeks ago that was Northwest, Arkansas who just recently had a community-wide COVID-19 outbreak. “You could imagine if we hadn’t made that decision what it would look like.”
In a press conference last week, Dr. Nate Smith of the Arkansas Department of Health said clusters of coronavirus activity had been identified in parts of the state as Arkansas was seeing its second peak.
Smith said the northwest part of the state is seeing the highest rate of new coronavirus infections. He also identified it impacting members of the state’s Latino population, who represent only 10% of the state’s total coronavirus cases but 20% of the state’s active cases of COVID-19.
Hutchinson explained on Tuesday that the lesson learned was what might be a low caseload today could be a community outbreak tomorrow.
“We need to watch that like we watch the rest of the state,” said Hutchinson. “I think we’ve proven that is the right approach to move our state together.”