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Arkansas reports 587 more COVID-19 cases, 5 more deaths

July 4, 2020 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas on Saturday reported 587 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and five additional deaths.

The Arkansas Department of Health said the state’s total number of reported cases is now at 23,209. The state now has 286 reported deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The true number of cases in Arkansas is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

On Friday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed an order allowing cities to enact measures to require masks in public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The executive order though doesn’t require masks statewide, and the local ordinance would not include penalties for not complying.

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Hutchinson’s decision on masks comes as the state is in the middle of a dramatic uptick in coronavirus cases and as health officials say they’re concerned about that number growing further from the July Fourth weekend.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.

On Friday the Little Rock Zoo announced that it would be closed until further notice after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. The zoo said the employee didn’t have contact with the public and noted that staff members are required to wear a mask at all times when on the zoo grounds.

Susan Altrui, the zoo director, said they’ll sanitize areas and test staff before reopening.

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