840 new statewide cases to surpass 100,000 total

The following statistics were shared at the governor’s weekly COVID-19 update on Tuesday, Oct. 20, and posted on the Arkansas Department of Health’s (ADH) website:

  • 100,441 total cases, up 840 from Monday.
  • 94,418 total confirmed cases, up 628 from Monday. 
  • 6,023 total probable cases, up 216 from Monday.
  • 8,422 total active cases, down 236 from Monday.
  • 7,159 active confirmed cases, down 291 from Monday.
  • 85,675 recoveries, up 905 from Monday.
  • 1,728 total deaths, up 14 from Monday.
  • 637 cases requiring hospitalization, up 24 from Monday.
  • 101 cases requiring a ventilator, up two from Monday. 
  • 2,275 cumulative cases in Garland County, up 16 from Monday.
  • 161 active cases in Garland County, down four from Monday.
  • 2,052 recoveries in Garland County, up 20 from Monday.
  • 62 deaths in Garland County, no change from Monday.

In the past 24 hours, the number of positive PCR tests added in Arkansas was 628, with 547 from the community and 81 from correctional facilities. There were 216 positive antigen results from a total of 2,429 antigen tests in the past 24 hours. The number of PCR tests completed in the past 24 hours was 5,439. 

The counties with the highest number of new cases in the past 24 hours include Pulaski with 62, Washington with 39, Benton with 38, Craighead with 32, Crittenden with 25, Crawford with 21 and Greene with 20.

In what Hutchinson shared was the 153rd COVID-19 briefing, he provided the update via Zoom due to exposure he had in a meeting last Friday with an individual who later tested positive for the virus. Although there was distancing and masks were worn at that meeting, as well as negative antigen and PCR test results from Hutchinson on Monday, he is limiting his public appearances and meetings out of an abundance of caution. There will be follow-up tests given tomorrow, Friday, next Monday and as needed. Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero and Secretary of Education Johnny Key joined the news conference via Zoom, as well. 

Growth rate charts of new cases in Arkansas between Oct. 11-17 show that by public health region, the Northeast again had the highest percentage of new cases at 8.3%, followed by the Central at 5.4%, Southwest at 5.2%, Northwest at 4.3% and the Southeast at 4.1%. New cases by age group during that same time period show that the 65-and-older group has the highest percentage at 7.5%, followed by the 45-64 group at 5.5% and the 25-44 group at 4.9%. 

Hutchinson shared that the unemployment rate in the state went from 7.4% to 7.3% this last month, which he said is “great news for Arkansans.” He described it as “a slow, downward trend that I hope will continue.”

He said there is concern about the state’s positivity rate, which for several weeks had plateaued well below the 10% mark but has recently started to trend back upward. Also of concern is the rising number of those being hospitalized for COVID-19. He said in talking to Department of Health and hospital officials, “they describe the situation as ‘tight.’”

“We are all worried about the winter and the fact that if our flu season or other hospitalizations go up, it’s hard to manage it all together, and so it’s not just COVID that’s taking hospital space,” he said. “For that reason, we need to really work hard in our flu season to control that and hopefully get our hospitalizations down.”

Romero gave a reminder for everyone to wear facial coverings, socially distance of at least 6 feet and to wash their hands. “The continuing numbers of cases that we are seeing indicates that the mask mandate is not being adhered to as we would like to see it,” he said.

According to Romero, the CDC and ADH are noticing that family gatherings have become more prevalent sources of contagion. He explained that we need to abide by the pandemic guidelines when having such family gatherings, even though our tendency is to let our guards down. He reminded viewers that 30-40% of COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, meaning these individuals can spread the disease without even knowing they themselves are carrying it because they do not feel sick or show symptoms. 

Key said that 20 districts or schools have had onsite modifications in the past week, which is higher than the week before. He said there are only 16 active modifications, however. So far this school year there have been a total of 158 modifications. 

“We encourage districts to stay engaged with their Ready for Learning committees to get that local feedback and make adjustments, working with us and the Health Department to do so,” said Key. He explained that some schools and districts are transitioning from virtual to all on-site learning, which eases the workload on teachers. 

When asked about antigen tests being provided for surveillance testing for some schools, Key said the Department of Education and the Department of Health identified school districts to invite to participate. There will two webinars this week to provide these districts with more information so they can see if they want to be a part of this initiative.

Testing numbers are continuing to be high, and the state has almost reached is goal for PCR tests for October as there have already recorded 187,970. The goal for antigen tests has been well exceeded with 24,638 so far this month.

10-20-20 ADH daily graphic