On a day in which a higher than normal increase of COVID-19 cases was reported in Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson discussed the need to prevent “little spikes” from becoming new outbreaks.
Known COVID-19 cases in Arkansas totaled 4,164, on Tuesday (May 12), up from 4,043 on Monday. The number of deaths rose from 94 to 95. Of the total cases, 849 are active cases, with 3,120 recoveries. The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Arkansas was 59 on Tuesday, down from 61 on Monday. Of the COVID-19 patients, 12 were on ventilators, up from 11 on Monday.
As of Tuesday at noon, there were 1,354,504 U.S. cases and 81,076 deaths. Globally, there were 4,222,968 cases and 287,809 deaths.
Of the 121 new cases reported Tuesday, 100 are in communities statewide and 21 were in correctional facilities – primarily the Cummins Unit of the Arkansas State Prison in Gould and the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Forrest City. Of the 100 community cases, 27 were in St. Francis County, of which Forrest City is the county seat.
As of Tuesday, there are 900 positive COVID-19 cases among Cummins’ inmates and 60 cases among the prison’s staff. Seven inmates at the facility have died from COVID-19. At the federal prison, there are 332 cases among inmates and 17 among the staff. No deaths have been reported at the federal prison.
During his daily COVID-19 briefing, the governor said he watched part of Dr. Tony Fauci’s testimony Tuesday morning before a U.S. Senate committee. Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 response task force.
Gov. Hutchinson quoted this statement Fauci offered during his testimony: “My concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks.” The governor said that is also his concern, and more contact tracing capabilities and adherence to social distancing and other announced directives will help prevent outbreaks.
“We’re working hard to make sure those little spikes that we see do not become outbreaks or a resurgence. And that is what we are focused on, and what I hope everyone is focused on, is that we’re going to have spikes. Let’s don’t let those spikes become outbreaks,” the governor said.
Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said the number of cases in St. Francis County is a concern and more people should seek testing.
“I would encourage those who work at the FCI there to get tested, either by their private physicians or at one of these community testing events,” Smith said during the briefing. “It’s important for those who work at the FCI, both for their safety and the safety of their families, to come forward and get tested.”
OTHER COVID BRIEFING ITEMS
• Gov. Hutchinson said the state has received the anti-viral medicine remdesivir from the federal government that will be distributed by the Arkansas Department of Health. He said the medicine received is enough for about 50 patients which is “probably about right for the number of hospitalized patients we have now.” Smith said as of Monday there were 52 patients who might be candidates for the drug.
• The governor also said a decision will be announced May 18 on lifting restrictions on bars, and a decision on May 20 about guidelines for summer camps and team sports.