Gov. Hutchinson: Rise in COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations ‘not good news’

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 1,495 views 

“These are not good numbers,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday (July 28) after reporting 20 more COVID-19 deaths in the state and the number of hospitalizations rising to 501. The number of known cumulative COVID cases also topped 40,000.

“Whenever we’ve gone over the 40,000 mark cumulative in terms of our total cases. When we’ve gone over 500 in our current hospitalizations. These are both high-water numbers for us, and of course having an increase of 20 in terms of our deaths is not good news as well,” the governor said during his daily COVID briefing.

Known COVID-19 cases in Arkansas totaled 40,181 on Tuesday, up from 39,447 on Monday. Of the 734 new cases, 20 were from correctional facilities. There are 6,565 active cases. The number of deaths rose from 408 to 428, with six of those deaths not happening within the previous 24 hours. The number of COVID patients hospitalized in Arkansas was 501 on Tuesday, up from 489 on Monday. There are 110 patients on ventilators, unchanged from Monday. There are 33,188 cumulative recovered cases.

The number of deaths surpassed the 413 deaths on July 28 estimated by the closely watched Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. The IHME modeling for Arkansas predicts 895 deaths by Nov. 1.

The top six counties with new cases reported were: Pulaski (55), Benton (50), Mississippi (48), Sebastian and Washington each at 45, and Pope (36). The counties accounted for 39% of the 714 new community cases reported Tuesday. There were 11 counties with 20 or more new known cases, which the governor said shows the “breadth of the spread in terms of the number of counties in Arkansas.”

As of Tuesday at 1 p.m., there were 4,309,230 U.S. cases and 148,298 deaths. Globally, there were 16,540,137 cases and 655,300 deaths.

The Arkansas Department of Health also provided new information on positivity rates per county since the pandemic began. The top three counties had high rates because of large numbers of state prison inmates testing positive in facilities in those counties. Following are the top 10 counties.
• Lincoln: 32.5%
• Lee: 24.9%
• Hot Spring: 27.5%
• Yell: 21.5%
• Washington: 21.3%
• Johnson: 18%
• Sevier: 17.6%
• St. Francis: 15.8%
• Chicot: 14.4%
• Crittenden: 12.9%

When asked Tuesday about some Arkansas legislators opposing the statewide mask mandate and some businesses not enforcing the mandate, Gov. Hutchinson said “by and large” most Arkansans understand and support the need for the mask mandate and other public health safety rules.

“Arkansans are doing the right thing. We see great levels of compliance. We would like to see more. As someone said, if you want to have school this year, if you want to have sports this year, the best thing we can do is wear a mask, to socially distance, to protect others, to protect ourselves, and to make sure we don’t add to that spread,” he said.