COVID cases top 700, PPE shipments begin to arrive in Arkansas

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 5,628 views 

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson

The number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Arkansas continues to rise. On the good news side, officials say a cargo plane providing 30 days of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers should arrive in Arkansas on April 12.

COVID-19 cases in Arkansas totaled 704 as of Friday afternoon, up from 643 on Thursday. The number of deaths remained the same at 12. The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Arkansas was 71 on Friday, up from the 66 on Thursday. As of Friday at 1 p.m., there were 258,214 U.S. cases and 6,605 deaths. Globally, there were 1,066,706 cases and 56,767 deaths.

Of the COVID-19 patients in Arkansas, 26 were on ventilators, up from 23 on Thursday, 56 were nursing home residents, up from 51 on Thursday, and 96 were healthcare workers, up from 91 on Thursday. Of the 96 healthcare workers with COVID-19, 10 are physicians and 28 are nurses.

Following are the five counties with the most COVID cases as of Friday afternoon.
• Pulaski: 127
• Cleburne: 64
• Jefferson: 50
• Benton: 42
• Faulkner: 38

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during Friday’s (April 3) press conference the state has conducted almost 10,000 COVID-19 tests and believes the testing “is more than sufficient to give us a good handle on where we are in Arkansas.” In the question-and-answer portion of the press conference, the governor was again asked about the state’s testing capacity. He handed the question off to Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith.

“I feel like at this point we have a good sample so we know our trajectory. We haven’t identified everyone who is infected with COVID-19 in Arkansas,” Smith said. “That would be ideal, if we knew every single case as soon as they were infected. But we have, I think, enough of a sample with close to 10,000 tests to understand the geography and the slope of that curve. Also, the slope, the trajectory of our cases mirrors the trajectory of our hospitalizations.”

Smith said the state has conducted 9,626 COVID-19 lab tests, with 7.3% being positive. He said there were 658 test reports on Thursday, with 62 coming from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 144 by the Arkansas Department of Health lab, and 452 were from commercial labs.

Also on the testing front, UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson said a mobile testing unit made its first trip Thursday to Helena where 123 people were screened and were 30 tested. He said the test results were not yet available. He said the mobile unit will make more city visits in the coming weeks.

Patterson also said the state’s first shipment of PPE from the federal stockpile arrived Friday and was delivered to a warehouse in North Little Rock where it will be distributed by the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. He said they are also received gloves and masks procured by the state from overseas suppliers.

He also said a chartered cargo flight is set to arrive April 12 and should provide state healthcare workers with 30 days of PPE. The equipment will also be distributed by the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. Patterson cited Curtis Broughton, assistant vice chancellor for procurement in the UAMS Office of Supply Chain, for making the private PPE procurement happen.

Patterson also said 550 gallons of hand sanitizer a week is being provided to the state at no cost by L’Oreal, a global company with a manufacturing plant in North Little Rock. The hand sanitizer will be distributed statewide.