“Obviously, this is not good news,” Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said Thursday (July 2) after the state again set a record for known COVID-19 cases reported in one day and a record for active cases.
Of the 878 new cases reported, 150 were likely from the Ouachita River Unit of the Arkansas Department of Corrections in Malvern (Hot Spring County), Smith said during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s daily COVID briefing. That sets a one-day new community spread case record of 728 cases.
Known COVID-19 cases in Arkansas totaled 22,075 on Thursday, up from 21,197 on Wednesday. There are 6,098 active cases, which is also a new record. The number of deaths rose from 277 to 279. The number of COVID patients hospitalized in Arkansas was 272 on Thursday, down from 275 on Wednesday. There are 69 patients on ventilators, down from 72 on Wednesday. Of the known cases since March 11, 15,698 have recovered.
Apart from Hot Spring County, the top counties for new cases reported Wednesday were Washington (117), Pulaski (98), Benton (75), Sebastian (55), Faulkner (35), and Crawford (23).
As of Thursday at 1 p.m., there were 2,713,195 U.S. cases and 128,421 deaths. Globally, there were 10,759,507 cases and 517,647 deaths.
‘HUGE PRESSURE POINT’
In responding to questions about a letter from a coalition of seven hospital and clinic administrators in Northwest Arkansas, Gov. Hutchinson said he recognizes there is a “huge pressure point” in the testing materials supply chain with increased testing around the country.
Part of the problem is a national backlog among commercial testing labs that can take seven days or more to provide results, which Gov. Hutchinson said is too long to be able to react in a way to treat patients and act to contain the virus.
The letter sent Thursday on behalf of the Northwest Arkansas medical leaders noted a “growing concern” with not only testing supplies but with the personal protective equipment (PPE) and “nursing and clinical resources that are needed as Northwest Arkansas sees a surge of people seriously ill from the virus.”
“There is a real concern in the healthcare community that the current demand for testing will exceed our capacity and impact our ability to provide timely test results needed to provide critical care services for those patients with acute health issues. That goes for both our adult and pediatric populations,” Larry Shackelford, CEO Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, said in the statement.
Gov. Hutchinson said President Donald Trump should invoke the National Defense Production Act – as the President did with ventilator production earlier this year – to boost testing supplies. The governor said he has not talked to the White House about the issue but will on his first available chance.
Smith said the Arkansas Department of Health is in contact with Northwest Arkansas hospital officials and is working to have some tests conducted by the public health lab to ease the supply problem while also getting the faster results hospitals and clinics require.