Gov. Asa Hutchinson is on a testing regimen after possible exposure to a person with COVID-19, and the potential exposure resulted in his weekly briefing on Tuesday (Oct. 20) being conducted by Zoom. And on the day COVID cases rose above 100,000, the governor also called for a day of prayer.
A meeting in the previous week was attended by someone who later tested positive. Gov. Hutchinson said he was notified Monday morning of the possible exposure and was given a PCR and antigen test, both of which were negative. He said the briefing by Zoom was held “out of an abundance of caution” to avoid any exposure by gathering people in the Governor’s conference room for the weekly briefing.
Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said the governor will be tested Wednesday, Friday and Monday of next week. He also said the governor will be given a rapid test if any symptoms arise.
Also, the Arkansas Senate and Arkansas House confirmed Tuesday that Reps. Michelle Gray, R-Melbourne, and Stu Smith, R-Batesville, and Sen. Terry Rice, R-Waldron, have tested positive for COVID-19.
“Rep. Gray and Rep. Smith informed me they are doing well. I wish them all a speedy recovery. Leadership and staff are consulting with the Arkansas Department of Health in regards to contact tracing. I am confident, even with this short break, that we can still accomplish the work required in advance of the 2021 Regular Session,” House Speaker Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado, said in a statement.
DAY OF PRAYER
The number of known cumulative COVID cases reached 100,441 on Tuesday, the first time above the 100,000 mark. Romero said the recent rise in cases suggests not enough Arkansans are following health guidelines.
“The mask mandate is not being adhered to as we would like to see it. I want to remind everyone that it’s essential that we follow all the recommendations for decreasing transmission,” Romero said, adding that “at least 50%” of the population needs to regularly use masks and follow other guidelines “in order to see a decrease in the number of cases.”
Romero also said families need to be careful about their Thanksgiving plans. He said families often let their guard down when gathering and “that’s not always the best thing to do.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently said that families that don’t live together should consider avoiding a Thanksgiving gathering.
Noting that Arkansas is “doing everything we can humanly,” Gov. Hutchinson said during the briefing there is a need to solicit “divine” help. He issued a proclamation establishing Oct. 27 as a voluntary day of prayer to call upon “a Sovereign God” for help with the pandemic.
“It is the right thing to do to call upon Him,” Gov. Hutchinson said.
COVID REPORT – Oct. 20
New known COVID-19 cases, active cases, tests
• 94,418 known cumulative PCR cases, with 547 new community cases and 81 cases in correctional facilities
• 6,023 “probable” cases, up from 5,807 on Monday
• There are 7,159 active cases, down from 7,450 on Monday
• There were 5,439 test results provided in the previous 24 hours.
• There were 2,429 antigen tests in the previous 24 hours with 414 positives.
• 1,576, up 14
• 152 “probable” COVID-related deaths, unchanged
637, up 24
101, up 2
The top five counties with new known cases reported Tuesday were: Pulaski (62), Washington (39), Benton (38), Craighead (32), and Crittenden (25). The counties accounted for 35.8% of the 547 new community cases.
As of Tuesday at 1 p.m., there were 8,237,630 U.S. cases and 220,609 deaths. Globally, there were 40,601,835 cases and 1,121,308 deaths.