After five days of decreased growth in new cases of COVID-19, Arkansas recorded an increase of 520 cases since Monday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday in his regular COVID-19 briefing.

Of the new cases, 502 are active community cases for a total of 5,308 active cases of COVID-19 in the community. A decrease of 10 hospitalizations have been recorded since Monday for a total of 290. Of the hospitalized patients, 67 are on ventilators, an increase of four. The state reported 465 recoveries since Monday for a cumulative total of 14,531 recoveries. Five additional deaths were recorded since Monday for a cumulative total of 270.

The state completed 4,048 tests since Monday for a cumulative June total of 171,944 test results. Arkansas far surpassed its original June testing goal of 120,000. Currently, the state’s positivity rate in new tests is at 6.8 percent, well below the CDC recommendation of 10 percent. As in similar briefings, the governor said he’d like the positivity rate to dip lower. In other briefings, he noted he wanted the positivity rate below 5 percent.

Washington and Pulaski Counties continue to lead the way in new cases, while Faulkner County recorded 23 new cases of COVID-19 since Monday.

Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said the state has finished most of its testing of long-term care facilities in preparation for the opening of those facilities to visitors in July. Over 40,000 long-term care facility residents and staff have been tested in the month of June.

The governor also announced budgetary news, as the state finished $360 million ahead of its original budgetary projection for the fiscal year. Funds of $121 million were restored to Arkansas’ Public School Fund, while $42.4 million were restored to the state’s Institution of Higher Learning Fund. The Medicaid Trust Fund also had $72.2 million restored. The governor also announced a 2.2 percent merit pay increase to state employees, something he wasn’t certain he would be able to do some months ago when the COVID-19 response began to strain the state’s budget.

“They’ve worked very hard in delivering state services [at] every agency,” the governor said. “I appreciate their patience, and I think this will be well received.”

The governor also announced that he accepted the resignation of Secretary Wendy Kelly at the Department of Corrections, citing challenges in Kelly’s personal life which led to her resignation. The governor said he was surprised by her resignation but expressed his appreciation for her work.

“She’s led the Department of Corrections with a great deal of heart,” the governor said.

Kelly will remain in her position until July 30.

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