COVID-19 cases again top 1,000; education group alleges ‘culture of suppression’ at schools

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 624 views 

On another day when the number of new known COVID-19 cases was at or topped 1,000, the Arkansas Education Association (AEA) made note of “troubling reports of unsafe practices and policies that undermine educators’ ability to provide effective learning for our students.”

The Arkansas Department of Health on Thursday (Oct. 1) reported 1,124 new COVID cases, when combining the traditional PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test results with the quick-response antigen test results.

“I never like the increase in cases, but I am encouraged by fewer hospitalized, the increased testing and the decline of active cases in K-12 and colleges,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement. “There were over 12,000 PCR and antigen tests yesterday, which is a record for our daily reporting. This high testing volume is vital to our efforts to slow the spread of this virus. Remember, we all have to be disciplined and serious about COVID-19.”

The ADH reported 698 active cases in the public schools as of Thursday, down from 717 on Sept. 28. The report also had 438 active cases at colleges and universities, down from 490 on Sept. 28.

The AEA statement also said some schools are “creating a culture of suppression” around COVID-19 impacts.

“When educators speak up about health and safety issues, they do so to protect their students, colleagues and community,” AEA President Carol Fleming said in the statement. “It’s disheartening to see educators being punished for trying to bring community awareness to safety issues in our school buildings.”

The AEA statement also said privacy policies result in educators not knowing if a missing student or co-worker is infected, in quarantine, or out for other reasons. The AEA also alleged that some school districts are assigning teachers a number of students that exceed state standards.

Gov. Hutchinson’s office provided this response to the AEA letter: “Every school district is required to conduct in class instruction in accordance with our public health guidelines. There are processes in place to ensure compliance, including working with the Department of Education. Our goal has always been to provide safe, stable and quality learning environments for all our students. Hopefully, this new tool will be utilized in the right way and help continue the success we have seen in the first weeks of classes.”

COVID REPORT – Oct. 1
New known COVID-19 cases, active cases, tests
• 81,531 known cumulative cases, with 893 new community cases and 28 cases in correctional facilities
• 3,290 “probable” cases, up from 3,087 on Wednesday
• There are 6,552 active cases, up from 6,373 on Wednesday
• There were 11,244 test results provided in the previous 24 hours.
• There were 1,154 antigen tests in the previous 24 hours with 143 positives.

Deaths
• 1,238, up 15
• 146 “probable” COVID-related deaths, unchanged

Hospitalizations
485, down 5

Ventilators
92, down 1

Recovered cases
73,734

The top five counties with new known cases reported Thursday were: Pulaski (79), Washington (77), Benton (55), Craighead (40), and Sebastian (37). The counties accounted for 32.2% of the 893 new community cases.

As of Thursday at 3:30 p.m., there were 7,263,419 U.S. cases and 207,465 deaths. Globally, there were 34,114,758 cases and 1,016,406 deaths.

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