Arkansas virus cases rise by nearly 2,000, a new 1-day high
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ coronavirus cases continued to surge on Wednesday, with the state posting a new record one-day spike in cases for the second time in less than a week.
The Department of Health reported the state’s probable and confirmed cases rose by 1,962 to 126,197. The state’s COVID-19 deaths rose by 14 to 2,126.
The state’s one-day increase in cases was its highest since Friday, when it reported 1,870 new cases. The actual number of cases in Arkansas is likely higher because many people have not been tested and people can carry the virus but not feel sick.
The state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped by nine to 801, a day after they reached a new high.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson called the spike “a profoundly serious reminder of the emergency that continues.” Hutchinson on Tuesday said he didn’t support imposing new restrictions on businesses to combat the latest surge in cases.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force said in its latest report on Arkansas that 76% of the state’s counties have moderate or high community transmission. The panel’s report said the state last week ranked 20th in the country for new cases per capita and 27th for test positivity.
The panel recommended that colleges ensure there’s appropriate testing and students take enough steps to prevent the virus’ spread before they head home for the holidays.
“Behaviors are eroding on some college campuses; ensure students continue their mitigation behaviors to ensure no further outbreaks on or off campus,” the report said in its report, which was released by the state Wednesday.
The report again recommended that restaurants’ indoor capacity be limited to less than 50 percent and their hours restricted, calling it an effective practice to decrease transmission in public spaces. Arkansas has allowed bars and restaurants to remain open, but with only two-thirds capacity, and the governor has rejected past calls by the panel to close bars.
Hutchinson said the latest report had recommendations the state has already initiated, but there are others including incentives for people in “red zone” areas of the state to get tested.
The panel also said that nearly half of the state’s nursing homes have COVID-positive staff, which its said indicates “unmitigated community spread.” The state’s health secretary on Tuesday said he strongly discouraged families to take relative out of nursing homes for the holidays, citing the rise in cases tied to the facilities.
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