(08/21/20)  Arkansas Prison System has been fully tested

The following statistics were shared Wednesday at Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s daily COVID-19 news conference in Little Rock and posted on the Arkansas Department of Health’s (ADH) website:

  • 55,652 total confirmed cases, up 887 from 54,765 on Thursday. 
  • 5,854 active cases, up 188 from Thursday.
  • 49,135 recoveries, up 677 from Thursday.
  • 663 deaths, up 22 from Thursday.
  • 509 cases requiring hospitalization, up 10 from Thursday.
  • 120 cases requiring a ventilator, up 12 from Thursday. 
  • 1,256 cumulative cases in Garland County, up 23 from Thursday.  
  • 203 active cases in Garland County, up two from Thursday.  
  • 1,032 recoveries in Garland County, up 19 from Thursday. 
  • 21 19 deaths in Garland County, up one from Thursday.

In the past 24 hours, the number of new cases in Arkansas was 887. Counties with the number of new cases higher than 20 in the past 24 hours are Pulaski (80),Washington (57),Benton (47), Sebastian (38), Pope (33), Stone (30), Faulkner (29), Lonoke (25), Craighead (24), Crawford (23), Crittenden (22), Sevier (21), Garland (20), Independence (20) and Poinsett (20).

The number of tests completed in the past 24 hours was 6,396.

As the pandemic continues, the State of Arkansas will still struggle on terms of tourism, travel, etc… However, unemployment rate is down 2.5% from the month of May’s 9.6% unemployment rate. This is 3% below the national average.

Out of the five Arkansas regions, there is overall a downward trend; however, the last 24 hours have presented a slight up-tick in four of the regions. Hutchinson encouraged individuals to remember to social distance and be vigilant. 

The governor also stated that data shows clusters from routine of life “group gatherings.” He stated this is not good and can lead to cases which can lead to death. The pandemic is still happening and there is a lot still to do. The governor asked, “We’re asking schools to be mindful and social distance and wear a mask. Is it not the same logic and necessity applied when going to other activities and gatherings?”

Hutchinson announced that the State of Arkansas has completed the goal of testing 100% of the Arkansas prison system. Due to this completion, out of 14,650 inmates there was 5,120 inmates test positive, which is roughly 35% of the prison population. Over the last two weeks, it’s been brought down to 4%. Prison staff have also been tested. There was 4,728 staff tested with only 378 test positive.

Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero stated that for athletes, the Health Department will issue letters ending periods of quarantine. However, they still need to be cleared by the child’s physician for “return to play.”

Secretary Solomon Graves with Department of Corrections went into further detail on the mass testing for the Prison system. During the two weeks, the goal was to test over 8,000 inmates. The final count was 8,080. Of these, results have come back 6,699 with 6,406 being negative and 293 being positive. There’s still 1,381 tests pending. At this time, the rate is at 4.3%.

Graves also highlighted the concern for social distancing within the facilities. He stated that they have reduced the population by 10% over the past few months. This is due to in part of the slowing of new commitments from local courts and the implementation of Modified Emergency Powers Act Release Program at the end of April. This program generated 834 early releases from the Division of Correction. The Board of Corrections with the governor’s approval, recently authorized the moving up of release dates for 481 inmates. 

Chief of Staff Stephanie Williams announced that in April the Medical Marijuana cards were extended. The 6-month extension will come to an end on September 30. She wanted to encourage people to renew their applications so there is no delay in receiving renewals. The process can still be complete online or by mail. The required medical certification needs to be completed by telemedicine or visit their doctor. These requirements will go back into effect after September 30. 

She also wanted to alert individuals on Contact Tracing fraud. There are 600 active contact tracers in Arkansas calling individuals every day. Criminals are taking this time to pose as contact tracers. These individuals are asking questions about bank accounts and credit card information. Real contact tracers will never ask for this information. If individuals want to verify the call is legitimate, they can call 1-800-803-7847. The two providers making the legitimate phone calls are 877-ARC-OV19 (877-272-6819) and 833-CVD-2019 (833-282-2019). 

There is also a report about individuals posing as health inspectors. These individuals are asking for payment. The legitimate health inspectors will never ask for payment and carry identification with the agency logo. 

The Environmental Department number is 501-661-2171, which will directly connect individuals with staff that can verify and/or answer questions.