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Coronavirus in Arkansas: Governor announces casinos can resume limited operation May 18

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TEXARKANA, Ark.- On Thursday, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced at a news conference in Texarkana that the three gaming casinos can renew operations at one-third capacity on May 18.

The governor said social distancing requirements will be in place.

According to the governor, Dr. Nate Smith, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health, will release guidance to the casinos Thursday or Friday.

According to state officials, there are currently 3,665 cumulative cases of the coronavirus in Arkansas.

That was an increase of 97 cases from Wednesday to Thursday, according to state officials. Dr. Smith said of the 97 case increase, 30 were from correctional facilities and 67 were from communities.

Governor Hutchinson said Thursday there has been an uptick over the last two days, but he expected this. Hutchinson said there will be occasions where cases go up, and there would be a jagged pattern as the number of cases declines.

Dr. Smith said out of the total number of cases, 710 were considered active. Dr. Smith said his department looked carefully at the cases and reclassified some as recovered. Smith said his department “did cleaning up of books, so to speak”.

State officials say there was an increase of one for hospitalizations, bringing the state’s number of people currently hospitalized due to the virus to 70.

Fourteen people are on ventilators due to the coronavirus, according to Dr. Smith.

State officials said Thursday 88 people have died due to complications of the coronavirus, which was up three from Wednesday.

Dr. Smith said 47 nursing homes across the state have at least one case of the coronavirus. According to Smith, 266 residents and 155 staff have tested positive for the virus.

There are currently 881 cases of the coronavirus reported in the Cummins Unit, according to Dr. Smith.

State officials say 2,174 people were tested for the virus in Arkansas Wednesday. According to Smith, the positivity rating was 3.7 percent. Dr. Smith said he hopes to continue a trend of 2,000 or more tests a day.

According to Governor Hutchinson, Miller County has 35 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The governor said Texarkana and Miller County have done a good job of containing the virus.

According to charts presented by the governor, Arkansas has seen a peak of active cases and is on a decline. The governor said the chart also shows that recovery is faster than the growth of cases.

The governor said he wants to be able to get to phase two of reopening within 14 days.

Texarkana Mayor Allen Brown said the city and Miller County plan to follow the directives issued and asked for everyone’s cooperation across the state.

Dr. Smith said he had a conversation with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield about Arkansas’s numbers. According to Smith, Redfield said he was pleased with the state’s numbers and that the state never had to fully shut down. Dr. Smith said this proves you can do both save lives and save the economy.

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