BATESVILLE — The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences released another COVID-19 model projection yesterday and Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he has reviewed the report, but to put it in perspective, the June 19 model projected 18,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day in the future, and those numbers haven’t manifested, which shows some of the successes the state has been having in controlling the spread.

On the other side, Hutchinson said the projections also show us the seriousness of the disease.

“There is a fundamental individual responsibility of prevention of this disease,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday during his weekly COVID-19 update at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville.

“The modeling is primarily a reflection of the current growth rate. I think the big news in the modeling report this last time was that they increased the number of cases they are anticipating over the course of the winter, and they attributed that to what they see as the logical outcome of the fact that we are engaging in education,” Hutchinson said.

He said it was a logical assumption, but the best way to avoid that is embracing the necessity of wearing masks and social distancing.

“The model is predictive. We have an opportunity to change that number, we can drive downward. We can begin driving it down today through the mask, through the washing of our hands, through the social distancing. If we don’t drive it down starting now, we’re going to be playing catch-up,” said Dr. Jose Romero, from the Arkansas Department of Health.

Hutchinson applauded education partners statewide for their work these first two weeks of school.

“The challenge, the battle, the fight is not yet finished,” Hutchinson said.

“We’re going to beat those projections,” Hutchinson added.

Autumn is a time of fellowship in rural Arkansas and when asked about further lifting of restrictions for festivals and the like, Hutchinson pointed to a recent event in Van Buren County.

“We just had a festival, which was the Chuckwagon Races up in Clinton. They conducted that festival because they submitted a plan and worked with the department of health to assure proper controls, to work on distancing, and the wearing of masks and how they were going to prevent the spread during that particular event,” Hutchinson said.

“If a community wants to have a festival, if they believe that the citizens will follow the public health guidelines, and wear a mask, and socially distance, and the vendors will do that, if you can have that kind of control, then let’s submit a plan for the department of health to look at. In terms of just lifting restrictions as a whole, we’ll evaluate that week by week, but when we’re having 600 new cases a day, whenever we’re trying to get a good start to school and college activities, let’s have the cautionary note, and let’s take the more conservative route of not lifting those restrictions until we get those new cases,” Hutchinson said.

“The encouraging thing is that it isn’t out of control,” Hutchinson added.

As of Wednesday 606 new cases of COVID-19 have brought the state’s cumulative case count to 70,731, with seven additional deaths, bringing that total to 1,010. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 decreased by two to 387.

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