Arkansas experiences largest single-day increase in community cases of COVID-19 Thursday

COVID-19 cases in Arkansas increased by 1,013 on Thursday, including 1,008 community cases bringing the cumulative number in the state to 36,259 since the pandemic began.

Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson announced the numbers at his regular COVID-19 press briefing, held Thursday afternoon in Little Rock.

Thursdays increase marked the largest single-day increase in the state since the pandemic began, though some of that increase could be attributed to the lower number of cases counted as a result of a data entry issue the governor alluded to on Wednesday.

Hospitalizations increased by six to 480, and there were six additional deaths bringing the toll to 386 in the state.

The new cases Wednesday came from Pulaski County (113), Washington County (76), Benton County (73),Sebastian County (65), Craighead County (43), with numerous counties with between 25 and 30 new cases, Hutchinson said.

5,487 tests were announced, which Hutchinson remarked still falls short of his expectations.

Acting Secretary of Health Jose Romero said 107 Arkansans are on a ventilator, unchanged since yesterday. Romero said there are currently 7,009 cases are considered to be active, and 28,864 patients are considered to have recovered. Romero said the state has tested 133,054 individuals toward the governors stated goal of 200,000 during the month of July.

Romero also said that the state will now begin to receive updates from labs and coroners in a more timely fashion as a result of “electronic measures” recently identified. Romero is referring to a lag in reporting, especially relating to deaths coming from coroners, that has created a discrepancy in numbers between those reported by the Arkansas Department of Heath versus those reported by county coroners. Romero yesterday said the state is behind on reported deaths, and blamed the lag in reporting the use of fax machines for transmitting that information.

New Secretary of Corrections

The governor announced that Solomon Graves will take over as Secretary of Corrections at the end of the month.

Graves will replace Wendy Kelley, who is set to retire.

Correctional facility update

Hutchinson gave an update on the state of COVID-19 cases in correctional facilities in the state.

There are currently 841 active cases in state correctional facilities across the state, with an additional 28 at county jails, Hutchinson said.

The largest outbreak is currently occurring in the Ouachita River facility in Malvern with 577 active cases. The Cummins Unit is next with 62, and the Tucker Reentry has 20, and East Arkansas Regional Facility has 14 active cases.

A total of 8,583 inmates have been tested, representing about half of the total population. 3,789 inmates have tested positive since the pandemic began, with 2,970 considered to be recovered.

21 inmates have died as a result of COVID-19.

Charts presented Thursday