Wednesday saw fewer than 20 new COVID-19 cases in Sebastian and Crawford counties, several other statistics were on a downward trajectory as well.


With 591 new cases on Wednesday, there were fewer daily cases than there has been for the past week. For the second day, the seven-day rolling average of new cases was on the decline as well.


Both the number of hospitalizations and number of patients on a ventilators were down to 474 and 107 respectively. This came after an all time high of hospitalizations on Tuesday.


Also for the second day, the number of active cases was down to 6,876 on Wednesday. This means that more people recovered for two days than have tested positive in the same amount of time.


One number that was down, but was not a positive sense, was the number of tests taken in the 24 hours leading up to Wednesday’s briefing. After several days of more than 5,000 tests each day, Wednesday only saw 3,933.


The decrease in tests, according to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, was still due to the national high demand on commercial labs. Hutchinson called this delay "hugely problematic."


Hutchinson pointed out that all regions are decreasing in the number of new cases, but warned to not take too much comfort in the dip which would cause a lack of caution.


In the past week, Sebastian County COVID-19 cases have increased by 30% while Crawford County increased by 25%.


According to Washington Regional Medical System President Larry Shackelford, the governor’s order for national guardsmen to aid with case management, eight nurses have returned to direct care. Shackelford pointed out that they are still in an ongoing battle, but patient trends are lower this week and the hospital capacity has increased.


Eric Pianalto, president of Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas, stated that it was a difficult time for all the staff, but their numbers were also down.


Hutchinson took the opportunity to point out they are hiring more nurses across the state so that current nurses will not be stretched as thin working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.


When asked about steps to take with kids returning to school, Hutchinson stated that they would let the positivity rate guide their decisions, but stressed the importance of in-class education for the students’ learning and mental health.


Hutchinson stated that decisions are being made every day and local districts have a level of flexibility when setting up guidelines for the 2020-2021 school year.