Gov. Hutchinson working with other states to improve COVID-19 test numbers, timely results

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 300 views 

With the number and timeliness of COVID-19 tests from commercial labs continuing to be a problem, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he is working with the Rockefeller Foundation and other states to create a purchasing consortium improving access to testing resources.

The number of daily test results in recent weeks has declined to often being less than 5,000 a day. Gov. Hutchinson has said demand from California, Florida, Texas and other states with significantly rising COVID cases has resulted in fewer tests in Arkansas and delays between testing and the availability of results.

The number of tests reported Tuesday and Wednesday was 4,140 and 4,401, respectively, lower than the approximately 5,500-6,000 daily tests that have been typical since early June.

A letter of intent Gov. Hutchinson plans to sign will ideally result in a contract between the states and commercial labs and essentially guarantee the purchase of a certain number of lab tests. (A copy of the letter was to be provided to the media. As of 5 p.m., the governor’s office had not sent the letter. This story will be updated if/when the letter is sent.)

“It will be in terms of a commitment for purchasing and creating a demand for testing supplies in the future so that the supplier and the commercial labs will know what the demand will be because they’ve got that commitment by various states,” he said during his daily COVID-19 briefing held Wednesday (Aug. 12) at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

Known COVID-19 cases in Arkansas totaled 51,114 on Wednesday, up from 50,411 on Tuesday. Of the 703 new cases, 24 were from correctional facilities. There are 6,725 active cases. The number of deaths rose from 566 to 573. The number of COVID patients hospitalized in Arkansas was 486 on Wednesday, down from 507 on Tuesday. There are 113 patients on ventilators, down from 116 on Tuesday. There are 43,816 cumulative recovered cases.

Following are the top five counties with the most new community cases: Pulaski (78), Logan (47), Sebastian (43), Garland (42), and Jefferson (33). The counties accounted for 35.8% of the 679 new community cases reported Wednesday.

As of Wednesday at 1 p.m., there were 5,168,685 U.S. cases and 165,270 deaths. Globally, there were 20,423,897 cases and 744,649 deaths.