“People are weary of COVID. And I probably identify with that just as much as anyone,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday (July 15) during a daily COVID-19 briefing in which he and the Arkansas Secretary of Health sought to encourage Arkansans as the number of cases topped 30,000.
Known COVID-19 cases in Arkansas totaled 30,297 on Wednesday, up from 29,733 on Tuesday. Of the 564 new cases, 78 were from correctional facilities. There are 6,439 active cases. The number of deaths rose from 331 to 335. The number of COVID patients hospitalized in Arkansas was 458 on Wednesday, up from 445 on Tuesday. There are 94 patients on ventilators, up from 91 on Tuesday. Of the known cases since March 11, 23,523 have recovered.
The top four counties for new infections were Pulaski (78), Sebastian (52), Washington (46), and Benton (38). All other counties had less than 20 new reported cases. The four counties accounted for 44% of 486 new community cases reported Wednesday.
As of Wednesday at 1 p.m., there were 3,459,053 U.S. cases and 136,900 deaths. Globally, there were 13,397,167 cases and 580,388 deaths.
In the remainder of his “weary” observation, Gov. Hutchinson said: “And that’s a reality of where we are in our country. We’re tired. We’ve been fighting this battle for close to five months, and the most frustrating thing is it’s hard to see where the end is going to be. We know the end is going to be when we get a vaccine. But all I can say is that we’re in this and we’re in this together, and we need to be patient with each other, patient with leadership, and let’s really work together as great Arkansans to beat COVID, to win this battle, and make sure that life comes back to normal.”
Gov. Hutchinson, who spoke Wednesday on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, also praised the move by Bentonville-based Walmart Inc. and Sam’s Club requiring customers to wear masks in their stores. He said the move by Walmart is “another step in the direction of education” about wearing a mask and is a reminder of the need to “protect others as well as ourselves.”
Walmart and Sam’s Club said Wednesday (July 15) it will require consumers to wear face masks when shopping in their stores. The retail giant said about 65% of its nearly 5,000 stores are located in jurisdictions where face masks are already required by a government mandate. The new rule goes into effect on July 20.
Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said people should realize there are “persistent symptoms” that follow those who recover from COVID, which means there is more to tracking the disease than just counting recoveries and deaths.
“[C]rossing that 30,000 threshold, that seems like a big number. Those of you who are into numbers though will quickly point out to me that’s only about 1% of the state population, and I would agree with that,” Smith said. “But maybe to put it in a more realistic perspective, this a communicable disease. It spreads. If you came into your living room and the curtains were on fire, you wouldn’t say, ‘Well that’s less than 1%. I’m not going to worry about it now. Let’s wait until it gets up to 2 or 3%.’ No. You’d get after it. … The fire is still burning, and we can’t let up until we put it out.”