Coronavirus in Arkansas: Governor, ADH Secretary discuss state’s response

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson announced in a news conference Monday that there were 3,017 positive cases with 50 deaths in the state.

There was an additional 76 cases since Sunday, according to the governor.

The death toll due to complications from the coronavirus increased by one since Sunday, according to the governor.

According to Dr. Nate Smith, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health, out of the 76 cases, 60 were from the community while 16 were from Cummins Prison.

Of the total number of coronavirus cases, Dr. Smith said Monday 316 of them were health care workers, which is an increase of 13.

Dr. Smith said 203 of the total cases are nursing home residents. Dr. Smith also said 115 nursing home staff had tested positive for the virus.

According to Dr. Smith, there are 856 cases of the coronavirus in the Cummins Unit. The Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health said 32 inmate test results are pending. Smith said 50 Cummins staff have tested positive and 15 tests are still pending. Six Cummins inmates are hospitalized, according to Smith, but he said as of the last check, there were not inmates at the field hospital at Cummins.

State officials say 109 people are in the hospital due to the coronavirus.

The governor and Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health announced Monday they were able to exceed their goal of 1,500 test results a day from the two-day testing surge, which was April 24-25.

On Friday, 1,079 tests were reported with a 7.9 percent positivity rate, according to Smith.

Dr. Smith said on Saturday, 1,598 test reports were done, with a 4.8 percent positivity rating.

Dr. Smith announced Monday that 1,506 tests were processed on Sunday with a 1.8 percent positivity rate. Dr. Smith said the lower positivity rate could be due to opening up the criteria for testing, which allowed more people to be tested. He also said there also weren’t as many tests from nursing homes being done and the testing at the Cummins Unit was wrapping up. Smith said the 1.8 percent was representing more what was expected in the community.

On Monday, the governor reviewed the proposed state or regional gating criteria given by the White House. According to Governor Hutchinson, we have a downward trend of positive COVID-19 cases. However, the downward trend has not been for 14 days. The governor also said Arkansas has a downward trend of influenza-like illnesses. The governor also said the state is seeing a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests. Governor Hutchinson also said the state’s ability to treat patients at hospitals is more than adequate and there is a testing system in place for healthcare workers.

The governor also said Arkansas is critical in the food chain for not only the state, but the country and the world due to the state having over 60 food processing plants in the state. None of the plants have closed in Arkansas.

Dr. Smith said Monday officials are starting to see positive results on a case-by-case basis when it comes to plasma donation from those who have recovered from the virus but did not have a specific number of the people who have donated or who have received the plasma.

Governor Asa Hutchinson said Monday the personal protective equipment (PPE) supply chain continues to grow due to multiple channels of getting PPE to the hospital. The governor said some hospitals have found PPE on their own, FEMA has helped, as well as the state.

The governor said the ventilators that were going to be donated to Louisiana were never sent because the Louisiana state officials said they were not needed.

Dr. Smith did note Monday there was a possible shortage of swabs for testing, but that issue should be fixed soon.

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