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Coronavirus in Arkansas: Governor, state officials give update on nursing home testing, unemployment

Regional News

HOT SPRINGS, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson, Dr. Jennifer Dillaha- Medical Director of Immunizations at the Arkansas Department of Health and Commerce Secretary Mike Preston gave an update on cases and unemployment in Hot Springs Tuesday.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there are 13,191 total COVID-19 cases and 188 deaths in Arkansas, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson.

That’s an increase of 274 cases and six deaths from Monday.

Dr. Dillaha said out of the total number of cases:

  • 1,357 are ages 0-17
  • 1,469 are ages 18-24
  • 5,012 are ages 25-44
  • 3,840 are 45-64
  • 1,512 are 65 and older

According to Dr. Dillaha, 134 out of the 188 deaths were people 65 years or older and 54 were ages 19-64.

Dillaha warned the state has older adults have a lower percentage of the cases, but are at a higher percentage of deaths.

Dillaha said many of the people who have died lived in long-term care facilities.

Dillaha said it’s going to be important for age groups that have higher cases to social distance, wear cloth face coverings and wash their hands frequently.

The growth rate of new COVID-19 cases in the central region from June 7- 13 is 34% in Faulkner County, 15% in Garland County, about 28% in Grant County, about 19% in Lonoke County. The governor said the growth rate of new COVID-19 cases in Perry County is “low”. According to Hutchinson, the growth rate in Pulaski County was about 17% and Saline County had a growth rate of about 24%.

The governor said the highest growth rate of new COVID-19 cases in central Arkansas by age range was 0-17. The governor said this is good news because it shows the state is testing more and this age group is likely asymptomatic and will likely have a quick recovery time.

The governor said there is worry about people ages 65 and older getting the virus because of more serious health consequences.

According to Governor Hutchinson, the number of hospitalizations in the state due to the coronavirus increased by eight from Monday to 214.

The governor said the number of hospitalizations is manageable as a state, but they have to look at the regions.

Hutchinson said hospitals in Hot Springs are serving areas as far south as De Queen.

The governor said 4,175 tests were completed Monday. Hutchinson said that the state is in the position to make the 120,000 test goal by the end of the month.

Gov. Hutchinson said since March 11 when the state of emergency was called, 208,000 Arkansans have been tested for the virus. The governor said more than six percent of the state’s population has been tested for the virus.

The governor also gave an update Tuesday on the goal to test every long-term care facility in June. As of June 15, 13,000 tests have been completed so far with 113 of those tests returning with a positive result. That is a 0.9% positivity rate. As of Saturday, 150 facilities have been tested and 250 remain. State officials say they are on track to complete the testing this month.

The governor said the state is protecting the most vulnerable citizens, and hopes they can have visitors soon.

Dillaha said she understands it has been a great hardship for older adults and their families to not see each other.

The governor said he and other state officials will address nursing homes more specifically on Wednesday.

Preston said Tuesday unemployment is leveling off. According to Preston, the state saw a high of 140,000 claims and the last week of reporting showed 106,000 claims.

Preston said at the end of June, the requirement for searching for work will be going back. The requirement, along with two others, was waived at the beginning of the pandemic. Preston said starting in July, unemployment recipients will have to certify they are looking for work. Preston also said recipients can also submit if they have a recall date with their employer. According to Preston, the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services will send more communication.

The governor applauded Magic Springs and the City of Hot Springs for holding a concert in a safe way.

You can watch the full news conference above.

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