Record 662 new community COVID-19 cases

(06/19/20)  Record 662 new community COVID-19 cases  The following stats were shared Friday at Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s daily COVID-19 news conference in Little Rock and posted on the Arkansas Department of Health’s website:

  • 14,631 total confirmed cases, up 703 from 13,928 on Thursday.
  • 4,705 active cases, up 361 from Thursday.
  • 9,712 recoveries, up 336 from Thursday.
  • 213 deaths, up six from Thursday.
  • 231 cases requiring hospitalization, up five from Thursday.
  • 57 cases requiring a ventilator, up four from Thursday.
  • 569 cases involving nursing home residents, up 26 from Thursday.
  • 172 cases in Garland County, up two from Thursday.
  • 27 active cases in Garland County, up two from Thursday.
  • 144 recoveries in Garland County, no change from Thursday.
  • 1 death in Garland County, no change from Thursday.

Among today’s new cases, 41 were from correctional facilities and 662 were from the community, making it the largest growth of community cases in a single day. The counties with the highest number of new cases are Washington (136), Benton (112), Pulaski (53), Sevier (44), Sebastian (26), Faulkner (22) and Yell (21). There were a total of 5,167 test results compiled in the past 24 hours.

Dr. Nate Smith said they are looking at hospitalizations very carefully. Currently, the hospital in the state with the highest number of COVID-19 cases has 33 patients who have tested positive, with 18 in the ICU and nine on a ventilator. Smith said that the past two Fridays there have been in access of 700 new cases. When accounting for the five to six days of incubation, that would suggest that what happens on the weekends has had some bearing on the increase of cases. He said much attention has been given to keeping workplaces safe, which is important and needs to continue, “but when it comes to the weekend people can’t let their guard down in terms of attending events, not physical distancing and especially not wearing masks.” In terms of places of worship, contact tracing has identified around 25 places of worship where one or more people infected with COVID-19 have been in attendance, and in at least a third of those settings, the place of worship was not requiring face masks or a majority of attendees were not wearing them.

Hutchinson again stressed the importance of Arkansans wearing face masks to mitigate the spread of the virus, and he said that ADH would be sending out guidance and research proving that masks decrease the chance of spreading COVID-19. Included in the guidance are the recommendations that face coverings should be worn in all indoor and outdoor settings where individuals are exposed to non-household members and physical distancing of 6 feet or more cannot be assured. The masks should cover both the mouth and the nose.

The team from the CDC will remain in Northwest Arkansas for around two more weeks as they continue to map transmission networks and doing a deeper level of analysis, which Smith said will be very valuable in the state’s efforts.

The governor announced that the CARES Act steering committee approved $12,127,200 for EMS Direct Care Worker Payments and that $10,106,000 was approved for payments to emergency medical service workers. There are a total of 5,053 workers in the state who are licensed as emergency medical technicians or paramedics who will be eligible for these payments, which will be for the time period of April 5 – May 30, 2020.

Hutchinson also shared that the unemployment rate for May in the state declined by 1.3%, bringing the state to 9.5%. There are 46,378 more Arkansans employed compared to April’s figures. Arkansas is almost four points lower than the national unemployment rate of 13.3%.