Community COVID-19 cases reach new one-day high, with 42% in Northwest Arkansas

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 1,342 views 

The past 24 hours accounted for the largest number of reported COVID-19 cases in Arkansas, with 42% of those in Northwest Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported Thursday (May 28) during his daily pandemic briefing. The death count rose from 120 to 125.

Known COVID-19 cases in Arkansas totaled 6,538 on Thursday, up from 6,277 on Wednesday. Of the 261 new cases, none were from a correctional facility. Of the total cases, 1,830 are active cases, 374 are in correctional facilities and 71 in nursing homes. The number of COVID patients hospitalized in Arkansas was 104 on Thursday, down from 108 on Wednesday. There are 27 patients on ventilators, up from 22 on Wednesday. There are 4,583 Arkansans who have recovered.

As of Thursday at 1 p.m., there were 1,708,726 U.S. cases and 100,871 deaths. Globally, there were 5,929,312 cases and 357,781 deaths.

Gov. Hutchinson said Thursday’s tally was the largest number of community cases in the state in a 24-hour period. He said a positive out of the large number is the positivity rate with the 2,966 tests was 3.9%, marking three days the rate has trended lower.

There were 85 new cases in Benton County and 25 new cases in Washington County. Prior to Thursday, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 339 COVID-19 cases in Benton County and 326 in Washington County.

Of the cases in the two counties, 85% in Benton and 45% in Washington were from the Latino community. The governor said there are challenges working with the Hispanic community but state officials are trying to do more. Arkansas Secretary Health Dr. Nate Smith said the state plans to test more in the Hispanic community, raise awareness, and working with employers to test in areas with majority Hispanic workers.

“We want to really have an increased effort in outreach with our Hispanic community and other minority communities to make sure they’re aware of the risk and the actions they should take to protect themselves and to protect their families,” Gov. Hutchinson said.

Smith also said ongoing contact tracing shows an average of each positive case having close contact with 2.8 people. The average suggests the 261 new cases will require the quarantine of 992 people – 261 positive and 731 in close contact – for up to 14 days. He also said state officials work as “soon as possible” to reach out to those in close contact to encourage them to quarantine and get them tested.

Smith also said that around half of the 6,538 positive cases reported in Arkansas since March 11 were with asymptomatic people. Gov. Hutchinson said the indirect quarantine impact of the 261 new cases and the large number of asymptomatic virus carriers are reminders why it’s important to follow social distancing protocols and wear a mask.

The governor also noted the virus history in the state, with central Arkansas the first spot with a large number of cases, and then a rise in the Pine Bluff area, then in Northeast Arkansas and now in Northwest Arkansas. He said people in Crawford and Sebastian counties in the Fort Smith metro should see the virus movement as a “wake up call” even though they have a low number of cases.

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