Governor Asa Hutchinson announces rec. pools, splash pads, water parks and swim beaches can open May 22


LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Friday pools, splash pads, water parks and swim beaches will be allowed to open at 50 percent capacity starting May 22.

People will not be allowed to enter if they have a fever, symptoms or contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

Six-foot distancing will be required in all areas.

State officials say if needed, have fewer enterances so overcrowding can be controlled.

There must be marking to note distancing at slides, diving boards and anywhere with a line.

Areas that are frequently touched must be disinfected frequently.

Tables and chairs must be moved six feet apart, but family groups can sit together.

The pool chemistry must be maintained with pH testing twice a day.

Lifeguards can be trained starting Friday.

Governor Hutchinson also announced Friday the Arkansas General Assembly and Legislative Council approved the Arkansas Ready for Business Grant Program up to $147 million.

The governor also said the Arkansas General Assembly and Legislative Council approved the request from the Arkansas Department of Human Services to provide payment to COVID direct and some indirect workers in hospital settings.

The governor also announced Friday there are 3,747 cumulative cases of the coronavirus in Arkansas, which was an increase of 82. Dr. Nate Smith, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health, said of the 82 new cases, 12 are from correctional facilities and 70 are from communities.

Dr. Smith said of the cumulative cases, 691 are still active. According to Smith, 131 of the active cases are in prisons, 89 are in nursing homes and 471 are in communities.

According to Dr. Smith, 48 nursing homes across the state have had either one resident or staff test positive for the virus. Smith said 270 residents have tested positive for the virus, which was an increase of four from Thursday. Smith also said 160 staff had tested positive for the virus, which was an increase of five from Thursday.

At the Cummins Unit, Dr. Smith said there are now 896 cases, along with 60 staff.

According to state officials, 64 people are in the hospital due to the coronavirus, which was six less than Thursday.

Fourteen people are on ventilators, according to Dr. Smith.

The state’s death toll due to the coronavirus remained unchanged Friday at 88.

According to Dr. Smith, 2,968 people have recovered from the virus, which was an increase of 101 from Thursday.

State officials say 2,355 tests were reported Thursday, which was the second day in a row Arkansas saw more than 2,000 test results reported. The positivity rate for Thursday’s tests was 2.1 percent.

The overall positivity rate, according to Dr. Smith, is 5.8 percent.

According to the COVID Tracking Project, the World Health Organization recommends state have lower than a 10 percent positivity rating.

Dr. Smith announced Friday starting Monday, hospitals can enter phase two of elective surgeries. This will change the limit for day surgeries only to now allow overnight stays up to 48 hours.

The governor presented the Health Department’s plan to expand testing in the state. The goal is to complete 60,000 tests in May, which is two percent of the state’s population. The plan includes utilizing the department’s 70 active local health units- which is estimated to bring an additional 14,000 tests, require expectant moms in delivery to be tested- which would be an additional 1,500 new tests, Abbott point of care machines will now have more supplies and the Department of Health’s Minority Health Commission’s movie lab will can go out and do tests- which officials expect at least 400 more tests to be completed.

Dr. Cam Patterson, Chancellor of UAMS, said his hospital has conducted over 6,000 tests.

Patterson said the UAMS mobile unit has completed about 1,200 tests. Over the past week, the mobile unit visited Warren and Southwest Little Rock. The unit will travel to Forrest City, Dumas, Brinkley and Hot Springs.

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