Arkansas COVID-19 cases rise over 100; nursing home tests planned for June

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,346 views 

A spike of 110 known COVID-19 cases in Arkansas was reported Tuesday (May 19), with three counties accounting for 43.4% of the new community cases. Gov. Asa Hutchinson also said Tuesday the state will begin June 1 a push to test all nursing home residents and workers.

Known COVID-19 cases in Arkansas totaled 4,923 on Tuesday, up from 4,759 on Monday. Of the 110 new cases, 4 were from correctional facilities. The number of deaths rose from 100 to 102. Of the total cases, 1,082 are active cases, with 369 in correctional facilities and 83 in nursing homes. The number of COVID patients hospitalized in Arkansas was 78 on Tuesday, up from 77 on Monday. There are 14 patients on ventilators, up from 12 on Monday. There are 3,739 Arkansans who have recovered.

As of Monday at 1 p.m., there were 1,518,842 U.S. cases and 90,994 deaths. Globally, there were 4,629,503 cases and 297,380 deaths.

Of the 106 new community cases, 19 were in Pulaski County, 14 in Sevier County and 13 in St. Francis County. Sevier County is home to a Pilgrims Pride poultry plant in DeQueen that has had six workers test positive, said Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith. St. Francis County is home to the federal prison in Forrest City that is dealing with an ongoing outbreak.

Gov. Hutchinson said the state has conducted 39,700 tests in May as of Tuesday, which is on a pace to exceed the governor’s goal of 60,000 tests during the month.

Also on Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it was releasing $78 million to Arkansas to expand its testing capacity for COVID-19. The funding is part of $11 billion from HHS to support nationwide testing for COVID-19 and the reopening of America. The investment will be used to develop, purchase, administer, process, and analyze COVID-19 tests as well as contact tracing.

Gov. Hutchinson also announced a goal of testing all nursing home residents and workers – estimated at between 40,000 and 50,000 – during June.

According to Arkansas Department of Health data, there are 192 nursing homes in the state without cases, 18 with one case, 10 with between 2-5 cases, one with between 6-10 cases and six nursing homes with 11 or more cases.

The governor also said $21.862 million in payments have been made by the state to nursing home employers to be paid as bonuses to healthcare workers. The money comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act approved by Congress to provide aid to individuals, businesses and state and local governments in response to the pandemic.