Arkansas surpassed 180,000 finished COVID-19 tests in the month of July, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Thursday afternoon in his regular coronavirus briefing at the State Capitol.
In a month marked by decreased testing numbers due to difficulties receiving significant test returns from commercial labs, the state is unlikely to meet its original July testing goal of 200,000 tests. Despite the likely failure to meet its goal, Arkansas has now tested 6 percent of the state’s population in the month of July, with Thursday’s 5,598 tests pushing the state over 180,000.
The governor said Arkansas recorded an additional 791 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday for a total of 6,184 active community cases of the virus. To date, the state has recorded 41,559 cumulative cases.
The state recorded a decrease in four hospitalizations on Thursday for a total of 504.
In more positive news, ventilator use in Arkansas hospitals is down by seven, at 101.
Eight additional deaths have been recorded since Wednesday for a total of 442.
Pulaski, Sebastian, Benton and Garland counties led the way in new cases of COVID-19, while Washington, Independence, Jefferson, Pope, Craighead and Mississippi counties also recorded elevated cases of the virus. Faulkner County recorded 21 new cases since Wednesday.
The state also shared city level data for the first time in Thursday’s press conference, with the governor listing the top-eight cities with the highest amount of new COVID-19 cases. Little Rock had the most, while Springdale, Fort Smith, Jonesboro, Rogers, Pine Bluff and Fayetteville also recorded elevated cases of the virus. Russellville recorded 166 cases of COVID-19 since Wednesday. Across the state, 500 communities currently have active cases of COVID-19.
The governor also announced on Thursday that he authorized 14 additional National Guard troops to assist the Department of Health in operational support. Previously, the state had deployed 28 troops to assist hospitals in the state, including Washington Regional Medical Center.
Interim Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said the state has removed the testing mandate for people preparing to undergo elective surgery due to extremely low positivity rate returns. Moving forward, the decision to test patients before elective surgeries will be up to physicians and medical institutions.