Arkansas COVID-19 cases increase 225 community cases to new total of 5,458

(05/21/20)  Arkansas COVID-19 cases increase 226 community cases to new total of 5,458  The following stats were shared Thursday at Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s daily COVID-19 news conference in Little Rock and posted on the Arkansas Department of Health’s website:

  • 5,458 total confirmed cases, up 455 from 5,003 on Wednesday.
  • 1,433 active cases, down 389 from Wednesday.
  • 3,915 recoveries, up 63 from Wednesday.
  • 110 deaths, up three from Wednesday.
  • 86 cases requiring hospitalization, up seven from Wednesday.
  • 14 cases on a ventilator, down two from Wednesday.
  • 330 cases involving nursing home residents, up two from Wednesday.
  • 131 cases in Garland County, up one from Wednesday.
  • 121 recoveries in Garland County, up one from Wednesday.
  • 1 death in Garland County, no change from Wednesday.

The increase of 455 includes 226 from the community and 229 from correctional facilities. There were a total of 2,616 test results received in the past 24 hours, and they reported the positivity rate was at 4.4%. Counties with the higher numbers of new cases include Yell (33), Benton (27), Washington (26) and Union (19). Dr. Nate Smith and Hutchinson both expressed concern at the increase in cases and hospitalizations, but Smith said that the uptick is partially attributed to the increase in testing numbers and availability of testing sites, which includes 79 local health units across the state. Targeted testing is already scheduled for the counties with recent increases in cases.

Announcements were given on team sports and on overnight summer camps. Youth team sports can resume with restrictions on June 1. Practice and competition will be allowed for limited-contact team sports, such as baseball, softball, track, gymnastics and swimming. The full directive will be posted on the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) website by the end of the day, and it will include the following: physical distancing, when possible; use of personal equipment and disinfecting of any shared equipment; participation discouraged for high-risk groups; screening of athletes, coaches and staff for symptoms; face coverings for everyone 10 and older, athletes can remove during activity and coaches/staff should wear at all times; avoiding huddles, high fives and any other non-sport related contact; directive for gyms applies to training facilities; and directives for venues, dining applies to athletic event facilities. Overnight summer camps can reopen on May 31, and camp counselors will be allowed to check-in a week prior to that date. Smith referred interested individuals to refer to the full directives to be posted online. He said these are some of the most complex directives “because we know COVID-19 is being spread in most of our communities and we want to make these activities as safe for our children as possible.”

The website for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – – is secure and returned online on May 20. Hutchinson said that as of noon today, more than 15,000 claimants have been emailed that they can go on the site and file their weekly claims. A total of 5,854 claimants have entered their weekly claim, and almost 4,000 have payments were sent out last night.

Hutchinson shared that the Crater of Diamonds State Park, which is important to the economy of Southwest Arkansas, will reopen with restrictions on May 22. The park will be limited to 500 visitors per day, and tickets can be purchased online at  

ADH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jose Romero spoke about the Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome of Children, which has affected a total of around 200 youth so far in the U.S. and Europe. There have been no cases reported in Arkansas. It is a severe inflammatory disease that follows a COVID-19 infection, but there is a treatment and death is rare.

Hutchinson encouraged Arkansans to abide by the mitigation directives, and particularly referenced the wearing of face masks for those dining in restaurants. Smith asked individuals to consider blood donations, which are down across the country.