Governor Hutchinson announced today that COVID-19 cases had increased by 1,079 in the last 24 hours (884 in confirmed PCR testing and 195 probable cases from antigen testing). Total cases so far: 95,246.
About 9,000 tests — PCR and antigen — were performed in the last 24 hours. The governor acknowledged that the positivity rate was rising along with the seven-day rolling average of new cases.
Hospitalizations dropped by 18.
Hutchinson reported 23 more deaths from confirmed cases, for a total of 1,634 during the pandemic — at least. There’s evidence that all deaths linked to the virus have not been included in the totals in most states.
Top counties for the day on new cases: Craighead, 66; Pulaski, 56; Benton and Washington, 42; Greene, 26; Pope, 25; Garland and Poinsett, 24; Faulkner, 23; Lawrence, 22, and Mississippi, 21.
Hutchinson also outlined plans for using Abbott BinaxNOW Rapid COVID-19 Tests.
It’s a 15-minute test that doesn’t require a sophisticated lab.
The state has 100,000 on hand and expects to get 50,000 more each week. A similar test by another maker has also been available and some other testing supplies are also available.
But he said this would expand the state’s overall ability to test.
It will be used for health care workers, schools, human development centers and the Department of Corrections. And priority will be given to election workers.
Health Director Jose Romero says these tests will enhance finding cases quickly and getting them isolated and traced. It is easy to use. A cotton swab is rubbed in each nostril and then rubbed on a card that gives a result in a few minutes.
Schools in red zone districts will get high priority, along with districts with high case numbers or a history of having to go to at-home instruction. Districts must have someone trained with using the tests and fully report results, positive and negative, Education Secretary Johnny Key said.
The governor was asked about hospital capacity and plans should pressure increase. “Right now we have adequate capacity,” he said. And he said the state has “surge” plans, though he didn’t specify what they might be. He said it was impossible to predict what might happen in the future, but he also repeated he didn’t want to put “more burdens” on citizens, a reference to more restrictions. He agreed with a questioner that the state was challenged on having adequate healthcare workers.
A Northeast Arkansas reporter said the evidence in his part of the state was that the guidance wasn’t working and people weren’t complying. Hutchinson said it is working in large parts of the state.
He said he’d talked to law enforcement about “education” of people and asking for a “greater level of compliance.”