Hutchinson briefing

Gov. Asa Hutchinson updated Arkansans on the state’s coronavirus numbers from the state capitol Thursday afternoon.

Arkansas has recorded its largest daily increase in community cases of COVID-19, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on Thursday in his regular coronavirus press briefing at the state capitol.

The state recorded 1,013 new cases of COVID-19 since Wednesday, 1,008 of which are community cases.

The state now has 5,994 active community cases of the coronavirus. The governor said some of the positive cases that were recorded on Thursday are the result of a data entry error at the Department of Health from Wednesday’s case numbers.

Interim Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said the state has recorded six additional hospitalizations for a total of 480. One hundred and seven of the hospitalized patients are on ventilators, no change from Wednesday’s numbers. Six deaths have also been recorded since Wednesday, for a total of 386 since the pandemic began.

Pulaski and Washington counties recorded the most new cases of COVID-19, while Benton, Sebastian, Craighead and Crittenton counties also recorded elevated cases of the virus. The governor added that additional counties in the state also recorded elevated cases, but he declined to list them all. To see the updated list of counties with elevated cases, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov after 10 a.m. on Friday.

Arkansas continues to lag in testing, finishing 5,487 tests since Wednesday. So fart this month, the state has finished 133,054 tests, well below the July testing goal of 200,000 tests. The governor said low testing numbers from commercial labs, as well as the Arkansas Department of Health, continue to be the reason for testing difficulties. In the latest batch of tests, the state’s current positivity rate is set at 8 percent.

Hutchinson also announced during Thursday’s briefing that Arkansas Department of Corrections Chief of Staff Solomon Graves would be promoted to the secretary of corrections position. Graves is taking over for Wendy Kelly, who announced her retirement in June.

After announcing Grave’s promotion, the governor gave an update on case numbers in Arkansas correctional facilities. There are 869 active cases of COVID-19 at facilities around the state, with 577 of the cases at the Ouachita River Unit in Malvern. Twenty-one inmates have died in Arkansas prisons due to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

Romero said every inmate is given at least two face coverings to wear as a precaution against COVID-19. Further, over half of the Department of Correction’s inmate population has been tested for the virus.

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