Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that Friday would be his last daily briefing on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as Arkansas reports nearly 1,300 active coronavirus cases on its higher education campuses and 525 in its public schools across the state.

The governor said he would instead pivot to weekly briefings “or as needed.”

“If you want to get rid of me, keep those cases low,” he joked.

He said that while the daily briefings had been “a useful tool” to communicate information related to COVID-19 over the past six months, he feels the state has the infrastructure in place to have information easily accessed by the public. He said the move should not indicate to the public that the emergency has gone away.

“Just because we do not have a daily update does not mean we don’t have an emergency,” he said. “We are still in an emergency.”

He stressed that he would still be meeting with department heads and staying apprised of the case numbers, testing, economic impact and more.

“It will not diminish my attention to this,” he said.

The newly-released state report (available on the Arkansas Department of Health’s website) showed the University of Central Arkansas has 27 active cases, seven cumulative faculty/staff cases, 58 cumulative student cases and 74 cumulative cases overall.

Three Faulkner County school districts were included in the report – Conway Public Schools, Greenbrier Public Schools and Vilonia Public Schools. School districts with fewer than five cumulative cases were not included in the report.

Conway schools reported nine active cases and 38 cumulative cases; Greenbrier schools reported nine active cases and 18 cumulative cases; and Vilonia schools reported seven active cases and 12 cumulative cases.

The state announced 398 more cases on Wednesday. Since the start of the pandemic, 940 Arkansans have died as a result of COVID-19.

Jeanette Anderton can be reached at janderton@thecabin.net.

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