Gov. Asa Hutchinson gave the public insight into COVID-19 numbers we could be seeing as a state in the new few weeks during his daily briefing on Friday.

According to the governor, a statistical projection showed around 3,500 cases by mid-April, with an estimated 750 hospitalizations.

“My goal is to beat those numbers,” Hutchinson said. “That’s what we’re trying to do as a state.”

This model – Hutchinson and his team have reviewed several trying project, anticipate and plan for coronavirus in Arkansas – put the possible peak sometime between late April and early June.

“Our plan is to do all we can to beat the worst models, or the worst-case scenario, and to reduce the case numbers and the hospitalization rate,” he said.

As of Friday, Arkansas had 381 confirmed COVID-19 positive tests and 1,545 negatives.

Hutchinson said he wants to prepare for the worst-case scenario, which is why he authorized 10 more Arkansas National Guard personnel to help expand the number of hospital beds in the state.

“That is what is needed to plan for the future,” the governor said.

In addition, they’ve also requested 500 more ventilators; Arkansas has 570 right now.

Hutchinson said the preparation is one part of the equation but the other is using the tools that are readily available now to reduce the trend in the first place and help to prevent potential hospitalization:

Don’t gather in groups of 10 or more people.

Follow directives and guidelines state health care officials have put together.

Practice social distancing.

Hutchinson also issued a directive – effective at 12:01 a.m. March 27 until further notice – to prohibit both public and private gatherings of more than 10 people in the state and includes community, civic, public, leisure, or commercial events. It specifically includes sporting events, concerts, conferences, conventions, fundraisers, parades, fairs and festivals.

It does not apply to:

Gatherings of 10 or more people in unenclosed, outdoor spaces such as parks, trails, athletic fields and courts, parking lots, golf courses and driving ranges where social distancing of at least six feet can be practiced.

Businesses, manufacturers, construction companies, places of worship, the Arkansas General Assembly, municipal or county governing bodies, or the judiciary.

Possible punishments of the new directive if violated include a misdemeanor offense punishable by a $100-$500 fine, one month in jail or both.

“Citizens want to do the right thing, sometimes they have to be reminded,” Hutchinson said.

Staff writer Hilary Andrews can be reached at handrews@thecabin.net

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