Governor Hutchinson cheered a day with a lower-than-usual increase in new COVID-19 cases, though it was produced on a day with lower-than-normal testing.
“The trend appears to be going down,” Health Director Jose Romero said. He attributed it to the governor’s mask mandate. The number has dropped three of the last four days.
Hutchinson said it would be a significant decrease even with a higher testing level. “We’re not ready yet to say we have a trend, but we’re very encouraged by the last three or four days.”
The governor and Education Secretary Johnny Key also announced the state was planning to provide school district-level COVID-19 information before the start of school. This will include the number of cases, rates of testing and other information.
This data will help districts respond, Key said.
Key noted college students will be arriving on campus soon and the days preceding classes can be a “social” times. He encouraged safe practices.
Yes, Hutchinson said in response to a question, there is a concern that any trend could go back up as school reopens. The solution is to “conduct yourself in the right way.”
The daily COVID-19 count
Arkansas added 383 more cases of COVID-19 the last 24 hours (69 from prisons), for a total of 50,411. Hospitalizations dropped by 1 to 507. Deaths rose by 11 to 566. Active cases: 6,847.
The top counties for new cases in the last 24 hours: Pulaski, 63; Sebastian, 31, and Carroll, 20. Total tests in the last 24 hours: 4,140.
Plans to open schools in two weeks is still the target, Hutchinson said. He said the rate of increase in Arkansas was different than in some states where school plans have been altered.
The governor and Romero said they tended to agree with those who’ve said college athletes might be safer back on campus and playing because of efforts by coaches to ensure their safety.
It wasn’t mentioned at the news conference, but I’ve confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Saline County Jail. A jail spokesman said a total wouldn’t be released until results from tests of all inmates and staff were completed. A defense lawyer in a case in Benton yesterday said he’d been told that 32 inmates and two staff members had tested positive, with other tests pending. A judge wasn’t sending those who appeared in court yesterday to jail because of the outbreak. The same lawyer reports the Lonoke jail also is experiencing an outbreak of cases.