Hutchinson shares updated guidelines for places of

The following statistics were shared at the governor’s weekly COVID-19 update on Tuesday, Nov. 10, and posted on the Arkansas Department of Health’s (ADH) website:

  • 124,235 total cases, up 1,424 from Monday.
  • 12,874 total active cases, down 299 from Monday.
  • 109,235 recoveries, up 1,034 from Monday.
  • 2,112 total deaths, up four from Monday.
  • 810 cases requiring hospitalization, up 24 from Monday.
  • 127 cases requiring a ventilator, up 11 from Monday. 
  • 2,881 cumulative cases in Garland County, up 31 from Monday.
  • 303 active cases in Garland County, up 13 from Monday.
  • 2,496 recoveries in Garland County, up 18 from Monday.
  • 82 deaths in Garland County, no change from Monday.

In the past 24 hours, the number of positive PCR tests added in Arkansas was 975, with 972 from the community and three from correctional facilities. There were 449 positive antigen results from a total of 1,787 antigen tests in the past 24 hours. The number of PCR tests completed in the past 24 hours was 7,175. 

There were 20 counties with more than 20 new cases in the past 24 hours, and three counties with more than 100 new cases.

Hutchinson struck a serious tone from the onset of this weekly briefing. “There’s not any…very little good news in today’s numbers. That is probably not a surprise as we see what is happening nationally. Also, it’s challenging to know what this means for the future,” he said, adding that there is “a lot of work to do here in Arkansas and across the nation.” He encouraged Arkansans to remind themselves every day of the risk from the virus, and the personal responsibilities we all have to try to control its spread. 

He said he continues to speak with hospital representatives and that they are making needed adjustments. “Let me just pause and say how much I appreciate our doctors, our hospital workers who are doing an extraordinary job over a long period of time, and the way they are managing this is a great benefit to all Arkansans. But we have got to keep them in mind as we try to control the virus in our own lives and in our own environment,” he said.

Hutchinson shared that places of worship have contributed to the spread of COVID-19. “It doesn’t mean people are not being careful, it just simply means that when you have congregates together there is a risk associated with it; a vast majority of our places of worship are taking extra precautions,” he said. Revised guidelines were provided for places of worship, and they will be posted on the ADH website. The primary change from previous guidelines was that masks need to be worn at all times by all congregates. “Masks are the biggest fact that contribute to safe worship,” said the governor, and “unmasked congregational singing is the primary driver of transmission in churches.” 

Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero echoed the governor’s concern about the rising hospitalizations, saying they will probably continue to increase and that they are watching it very closely and staying in contact with hospital administrators. He said they are also “keeping a very close eye” on the supply of ventilators across the state as those requiring the use of a ventilator is rising, as well. 

Romero attributed the recent rise in cases, at least in part, to the Halloween holiday and related parties that occurred just over a week ago. He said that if the mitigation guidelines are not adhered to in the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, the numbers will continue to increase. He said he strongly discourages any persons living in congregate settings to be taken away from their environment to have Thanksgiving or spend the holidays with their families. He said in tracking nursing home data since the visitation restrictions were lessened, they have seen an increase in the number of nursing home resident deaths. He did end his presentation with two optimistic items, sharing that the FDA is looking at the vaccine coming forward from Pfizer and that the state is receiving 900 doses of a new monochromal antibody treatment for those with mild to moderate cases of the virus.

Secretary of Education Johnny Key said that there were 21 on-site modifications made last week across the state, up from six the previous week. He said this uptick reflects the outbreaks in the community. The first two days of this week, there have already been 14 on-site modifications reported to the Arkansas Department of Education. He said, “Our schools are doing a good job of identifying close contacts, making the decisions they need to make to keep their schools going.” He also quelled a rumor that the state is going to call off school and require all districts to go to remote learning between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. “That is a rumor. It is unsubstantiated, and it is not something we have recommended to the governor. We do not have plans to close down public schools for those weeks after Thanksgiving,” he said.

Hutchinson said the 65-and-older age group continues to lead in the growth rate of new cases at 8.6% from Nov. 1-7, followed by the 0-17 age group at 7.6%. Hutchinson encouraged the older age group to continue to be vigilant as the risk for serious complications is much higher for them. For the youth, he said, “Young people, you can get it and you don’t know you have it; you’re asymptomatic, you think life is normal, and you could be giving that to an elderly that you love very much.” 

11-10-20 ADH daily graphic