Editor’s note: In a Log Cabin Democrat article that ran on Wednesday, it was incorrectly reported that the man who died on Tuesday due to COVID-19 at Conway Regional Medical Center was from Faulkner County. He was from Cleburne County.

During the daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, the Arkansas Department of Health confirmed 280 positive COVID-19 throughout the state.

In total:

  • 1,717 tests have been administered and 1,437 have come back negative.
  • Two new counties have been added to the list, including Drew and Hot Springs counties.
  • Of the 280, 13 are children, 94 are 65 years or older and 173 are between the ages of 19-64.
  • 12 patients are hospitalized, four of which are on ventilators.
  • 11 have met the department’s criteria for “recovered.”
  • Two reported deaths.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the reason he holds these daily briefings is with a goal to update and let the public know the challenges the state is facing, but also to let Arkansans know exactly what they are doing to address COVID-19 and plan for spread. He said the public is a part of this and he wants them to know that.

He addressed the health care workers who are on the front lines of this pandemic and thanked them for their handwork.

“They’re there every day,” Hutchinson said.

He said because of that, there will be fatigue among individuals, a need for some to isolate, there’s going to be a shortage and other issues and recognized the need to fill that gap.

As a result, the governor authorized emergency temporary medical licenses for medical residents who have completed one-year internships.

The governor also discussed recent calls he’s been receiving regarding social distancing concerns.

Hutchinson said in order for Arkansas to be successful in slowing the spread of the coronavirus, citizens must abide by the guidance of the health department by limiting social gatherings at 10 and less.

“Those exceptions can endanger what we’re trying to do in getting a handle on this,” he said. “This is necessary and this the part the public can do.”

Therefore, Hutchinson has decided to turn the “less than 10” suggestion into a directive.

In recent days, Arkansans have asked why the governor won’t put a shelter-in-place order into effect like other states or why some businesses are still open.

“I don’t want it to go to that step,” Hutchinson said. “The answer is let’s all do our responsibility. This is a way we are saying it’s not just a guideline, it’s a directive if we’re going to be successful as a state.”

In addition:

  • The governor signed a proclamation for the special session for the general assembly to convene at 1 p.m. Thursday.
  • Hutchinson said there were more than 9,000 unemployment claims filed this week, 8,000 last week and 700 filed just on Wednesday. He urged applicants to be patient and to be aware they are trying to upgrade the online system to run better.

Staff writer Hilary Andrews can be reached at handrews@

thecabin.net

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