The pace of new known COVID-19 growth in Arkansas slowed over the weekend and on Monday (June 29), but Gov. Asa Hutchinson said there is a “great deal of concern” that those not using masks and practicing social distancing will hamper efforts to reduce the spread of the virus.
The governor said Monday he participated in a morning conference call with Vice President Mike Pence and other governors during which the expansion of testing in “hot spots” was discussed and ways to “enhance everyone’s compliance with common sense” guidelines such as wearing masks and social distancing.
Gov. Hutchinson also expressed concern about social media posts showing activity at bars and parties during the previous weekend in which masks and social distancing guidelines were not followed.
Known COVID-19 cases in Arkansas totaled 20,257 on Monday, up from 19,818 on Sunday, and up 8.1% from Friday. Of the 439 new cases, 21 were from correctional facilities. There are 5,926 active cases. The number of deaths rose from 264 to 265. The number of COVID patients hospitalized in Arkansas was 300 on Monday, up from 283 on Sunday. There are 63 patients on ventilators, down from 66 on Sunday. Of the known cases since March 11, 14,066 have recovered.
Of the 418 new known community cases, 60% were in five counties: Washington (92), Pulaski (56), Benton (48), Sevier (31), and Sebastian (22). The number of reported new cases is up 155% so far in June.
As of Monday at 1 p.m., there were 2,564,163 U.S. cases and 125,928 deaths. Globally, there were 10,199,798 cases and 502,947 deaths.
Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said Monday he is concerned about a recent rise in central Arkansas cases.
“We need to be vigilant in the central part of the state and make sure that, not just in Pulaski County, but in the other counties in the central part of the state, that people are vigilant to use masks, to avoid large groups and maintain the physical distancing,” Smith said.
Also on Monday, the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism announced the reopening of 14 welcome centers. After closing March 20 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the centers are open with the number of visitors inside the building at one time being monitored. Workers are also frequently cleaning restrooms and common areas, and requiring the use of face masks when a safe physical distance cannot be achieved.
“The centers are located at strategic points of entry on major highways and interstates coming into the state. Twelve of the 14 are a partnership between the Arkansas Department of Transportation and the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. One center, Mammoth Spring, is a partnership with Arkansas State Parks. All are staffed by certified U.S. Travel Association travel counselors,” noted the ADPHT statement.
The centers are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week and are closed on major holidays.