Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that he allocated $10 million in funding to provide 20,000 Wi-Fi access points for students across Arkansas in preparation for the state’s return to school in August.
He made the announcement in his regular COVID-19 press briefing at the state capitol on Monday.
The funds for the access points will be distributed to districts based off their need, with the district responsible for choosing the wireless vendor, the governor said. The $10 million will come from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund.
Additionally, Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key announced that they would spend $1 million to purchase a strategic stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) to help districts who might struggle to maintain adequate supplies of PPE at the beginning of the school year.
Arkansas has recorded 824 new cases of COVID-19 since Sunday for a total of 6,299 active community cases in the state. To date, the state has recorded 39,447 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
Pulaski and Washington counties led the way in new cases of COVID-19, while Craighead, Benton, Sebastian and Jefferson counties also recorded elevated cases of the virus.
Nine additional hospitalizations have been recorded since Sunday for a total of 489. Of the hospitalized patients, 110 are on ventilators, an increase of seven since Sunday. Seven additional deaths have also been recorded for a total of 408.
The state has finished just over 164,000 tests in July, well behind its original goal of 200,000. Since Sunday, the state finished 5,924 tests.
Interim Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said he thinks the state will reach 180,000 tests by the end of the month. Lower testing numbers are due to a combination of factors, but mainly the lack of consistent results from commercial testing labs.
To help increase the state’s testing numbers, Arkansas Department of Health officials ordered 200 COVID antigen test system machines for use at the Public Health Lab. The first shipment of machines should arrive next week, the governor said.