Arkansas surpasses 20,000 COVID-19 cases

A. Drew Smith
Gov. Asa Hutchinson

Gov. Asa Hutchinson shared two grim milestones during his daily press briefing on Monday. With 439 new cases, Arkansas reached a total number of COVID-19 cases of 20,257 with 5926 currently active. The second milestone was 300 hospitalizations, which is touted as a more accurate representation of the seriousness of the virus.

Of those in the hospital, 63 are on ventilators. The number of deaths in Arkansas reached 265 on Monday.

Hutchinson made reference to parties and gatherings taking place over the weekend that could lead to an increase in cases later in the week.

When asked about the upcoming holiday weekend, Arkansas Health Secretary Nate Smith stated that specific suggestions on how to safely celebrate would come during Thursday’s briefing.

Sebastian County remained the fifth-highest county in the state for COVID-19 with 22 new cases on Monday. Washington and Benton counties were also in the top five with 92 and 48 new cases respectively.

Northwest Arkansas still has the highest number of new cases, but the seven-day average of the region has started to decline. Smith did, however, express concern regarding the increase of cases in Central Arkansas.

Across the state, the number of active cases has started to flatten out. Approximately the same number of people are recovering as are testing positive each day.

In discussing the thought process, Hutchinson stated that reopening was not the priority during this health crisis. The governor and Smith meet daily to discuss the state of this crisis and Hutchinson said that their priority is getting the virus under control and Arkansas healthy.

While the increase of testing does play a role in the increase of cases, Hutchinson believes that complacency plays a larger role than that.

The governor called the process of wearing masks “a long learning curve” in that their effectiveness was not realized until about a month after Arkansas had its first positive COVID-19 case.

Hutchinson believed the number of Arkansans wearing masks has increased, but noted that residents must stay vigilant so that the number of new cases would continue to decrease.