Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced an additional 591 new cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas on Wednesday in his regular coronavirus press briefing, a decrease from Tuesday’s new case numbers of 728. Currently, the state has 5,820 active community cases of COVID-19, Interim Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said.

Additional positive news came on the hospitalization front, with a decrease of 14 hospitalized since Tuesday for a total of 474. On Tuesday, hospitalizations reached a new peak. Of the hospitalized patients, 107 are on ventilators, a decrease of three since Tuesday. Six deaths have been recorded since Tuesday for a total of 380.

Testing continues to be a challenge for the state, with the state only returning 3,933 tests since Tuesday. The state’s current rate of positivity in new tests is set at 5.8 percent, though concerns were raised about discrepancies in the numbers.

As in previous days, commercial labs continue to provide fewer test results, while the Arkansas Department of Health’s Public Health Lab provided lower test results due to data entry difficulties. The governor said he expected additional testing results from the Department of Health to improve over the next few days.

Pulaski and Benton counties led the way in new COVID-19 cases, while Craighead County also recorded elevated cases. Faulkner County recorded 30 new cases of the virus, now ranked at fifth in the state. Garland, Pope and Crittenton counties also recorded more than 20 cases, the state’s benchmark for elevated case numbers.

Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston updated the press on the state’s latest unemployment numbers which continue to trend downward.

Ninety-two thousand continued unemployment claims were filed this week. Preston reminded Arkansans that the $600 unemployment benefit ends after this week, noting that Congress is negotiating another potential coronavirus relief package this week.

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