After shifting to a weekly coronavirus briefing schedule Tuesday, Governor Hutchinson did a  back-to-back briefing today, making himself available for questions in Batesville. He said he’d made the commitment some time ago.

The news: He opened by downplaying the latest UAMS projections. He said earlier projections had overestimated growth. But he said the numbers were a reminder that the problem remains serious.

He gave a similarly upbeat view of the most recent White House coronavirus task force report, which still sees Arkansas as a “red zone” state for its high rate of cases. He highlighted some areas in which progress was made.

“We’ve made progress, but we have more work to do,” he said. He lauded efforts by schools to follow health guidelines.

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The daily COVID-19 count

Arkansas added 606 cases of COVID-19 confirmed by PCR tests in the last 24 hours, for a total of 70,731 confirmed cases. Hospitalizations declined by 2 to 387. Deaths rose by 7 to 1,010. Active cases: 5,572.

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PCR tests completed in the last 24 hours: 6,360. There were 95 positive among 529 antigen tests. This ups the new case count to 701 in 24 hours.

The top counties for new cases in the last 24 hours: Washington, 65; Pulaski, 58; Benton, 37; Faulkner, 31; Jefferson, 29; Miller, 21, and Craighead, 20.

Q&A

He was asked about what it would take to “green light” festivals and special events. He again cited the chuckwagon races in Clinton, which he said had submitted a plan and the organizers had followed it (despite photos that indicated many in the crowd did not, including Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.). If a community wants to have a festival and believes citizens and vendors will follow guidelines, the governor said, “let’s submit a plan for the Department of Health to look at.” Lifting restrictions as a whole aren’t likely with 600 cases a day, he said. “Let’s take the more conservative route and not lift those restrictions until we get those new cases down more.”

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