COVID-19 testing in Arkansas nursing homes in the month of June has yielded a 0.9 percent positivity rate, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced in his regular COVID-19 press briefing in Hot Springs on Tuesday.

At the beginning of June, the state set a goal to test every resident and staff member in nursing home facilities across the state by the end of the month. With 13,000 tests completed in 150 facilities, 113 tests have been positive. Two hundred and fifty facilities await testing, but the governor said the state is on pace to meet its testing goal.

The governor said the low positivity rate is encouraging and that nursing home facilities could open to visitors in the near future. Dr. Jennifer Dillaha of the Arkansas Department of Health also spoke at the briefing and said continued practice of social distancing will be key in the decision to reopen nursing homes to visitors. “If we’re going to open our nursing homes so people can have loving contact with their loved ones in nursing homes, it’s going to be really important for all of us to do our jobs in the community to reduce the spread of COVID-19 so it cannot enter the long-term care facilities,” Dillaha said.

The governor announced an additional 274 cases of COVID-19 since Monday for a cumulative total of 13,191. Eight additional hospitalizations have been recorded for a total of 214. Six more people died from the virus since Monday, bringing the state’s toll to 188.

The governor and Dillaha also discussed the age breakdown of COVID-19 cases. Ten percent of total COVID-19 cases have come from children, while people ages 25-44 have had the most cases, with 38 percent of the total.

The governor also discussed the growth rate of new COVID-19 cases of counties in Arkansas’ central region from June 7-13. Faulkner County recorded a 34 percent growth rate, the highest in the region.

“That shows progression in the growth rate over a week,” Hutchinson said. With 208,000 cumulative COVID-19 tests completed, 6 percent of Arkansans have been tested, the governor said, noting he wants to see that number go up. Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said unemployment claims are beginning to level off, with 106,000 claims filed last week. Starting at the beginning of next month, Arkansans filing unemployment claims will have to begin fulfilling the state’s search for work requirement, Preston said.

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I’d would love to see our City Mayor or County Judge start Enforcing these guidelines that our president has set for us. I hope they will help in assisting to make the right choices for protecting our city and county during this pandemic.

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