TOP FOUR: Arkansas is among four states with the highest hospitalization rate based on population.

Stateline reports on the growth of coronavirus in rural areas and the resulting pressure on hospitals.

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Arkansas hospitalizations for the virus are at a record level — 649 yesterday. Still manageable, the governor has insisted, with staffing more of an issue than rooms.

But if Arkansas doesn’t slow the growth of COVID-19 cases, trouble lies ahead.

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That is a big if given prevalent attitudes in many places about masks, distance and the need to continue football, rodeo, political rallies, church and other group activities as if there are no risks. And then there’s in-person school. Some of the biggest Republican apologists think the lack of deaths among children and teens somehow indicates in-person school is perfectly safe. As if children don’t transmit the virus to others more vulnerable. And they DO get sick. And some DO develop long-lasting problems.

The governor promises news at his weekly briefing today. Maybe it’ll be about the taxpayer-financed gambit by bonus baby Commerce Secretary Mike Preston to advertise Arkansas as a great place for businesses to relocate because our pandemic response has been so excellent.

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