Governor provides update on COVID-19 in Arkansas from Washington Regional

The number of cumulative COVID-19 cases in Arkansas increased by 591 on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases to 35,246.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the numbers at his regular coronavirus press conference. Wednesday’s event was held at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville.

Hospitalizations decreased by 14 to 474, and there were six additional deaths announced, bringing the toll in the state to 380. Seven of the cases announced Wednesday came from within correctional facilities, and the remaining cases are from the general community.

The number of patients on a ventilator decreased by three, for a total of 107.

Dr. Jose Romero, who will take over as interim Secretary of Health in August, said active cases reached 6,876 Wednesday, with 140 of those coming from nursing homes, 916 from correctional facilities, and 5,820 in the community at large.

Romero said tests from Washington County had a positivity rate of 22%, more than double the CDC’s recommended rate of 10%, and four times the 5% rate that the WHO recommends.

More than 70% of the cases in Washington County come from individuals aged 44 or younger, he said, which he called “unusual” compared to national trends. Romero said he believes those cases are coming from people who are infected at work, or who are spreading the infection at work.

Romero also pointed out that a larger-than-average number of infections in Washington County are children, with 17.9% of the cases coming from children age 17 or younger. The national average, he said, is closer to 2-3%, which indicates they must have come from a spread within families units.

A little more than 11% of deaths in the state come from Washington County at 39, and approximately 60 of those come from the Marshallese community, Romero said.

The daily case number announced Wednesday was lower than Tuesday, but Hutchinson cautioned that the decrease could be attributed to a reduction in tests conducted. Just 3,933 tests were reported on Wednesday, which is well below the over 6,400 daily tests needed to meet the governor’s stated goal of 200,000 tests for the month of July.

Hutchinson blamed the low test numbers on a decrease in production coming from commercial labs across the state, and a decrease in tests conducted by the Arkansas Department of Health due to a recent data “entry challenge.”

The new cases Wednesday came from Pulaski County (80), Benton County (46), Washington County (38), Craighead County (33), Faulkner County (30), Garland County (30), Pope County (24), and Crittenden County (22). All other counties reported 20 or fewer cases.

Charts shown on Wednesday