Coronavirus in Arkansas: Governor Hutchinson announces state will move to phase two starting Monday, June 15

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday the state will move to phase two and lift more restrictions starting Monday, June 15.

This means all venues can move to two-thirds capacity as long as six-foot distancing can still be maintained.

Governor Hutchinson said there are many things in phase two that has already happened in Arkansas, such as non-essential travel, gyms opening, elective surgeries and youth activities resuming.

“Americans are on the move and they can’t be tied down,” Governor Hutchinson said.

The governor also said people understand the risk and stay at home when they need to and take precautions.

State officials say data in Arkansas shows that the growth rate with the coronavirus doesn’t have to do with opening things up.

The governor said the gating criteria is based on peaks like what was experienced in New York and New Orleans. The governor said instead of having one peak like those areas, we’ve had two.

Gov. Hutchinson said the state is best served to move together, even though there are regions with spikes.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there are 10,368 total COVID-19 cases and 165 deaths in the state, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson.

That’s an increase of 288 cases and four deaths since Tuesday.

Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said of the new cases, 60 of those were in correctional facilities. According to Dr. Smith, the majority of the correctional facilities cases were in Lee County.

Governor Hutchinson said out of the new positive cases, 51 are in Pulaski County, 44 are in Washington County and 33 are in Benton County. According to the governor, all other counties had fewer than 20 new cases reported.

Dr. Smith said there are currently 3,087 active cases in the state, with 138 of those in nursing homes, 199 in correctional facilities and 2,750 in communities.

According to state officials, 181 people are hospitalized in Arkansas due to COVID-19. That is an increase of eight from Tuesday.

Dr. Smith said 49 people are on ventilators in the state due to the coronavirus, five more than Tuesday.

Dr. Smith said 4,120 tests were done Tuesday, bringing the total number of tests completed so far this month to 37,907.

According to state officials the top 10 counties with the highest active community cases are (in rate per 10,000 residents) :

  • Sevier- 101.2 per 10,000 residents
  • Yell- 43.57 per 10,000 residents
  • Washington- 30.98 per 10,000 residents
  • Crittenden- 22.65 per 10,000 residents
  • Lee- 21.28 per 10,000 residents
  • Benton- 20.66 per 10,000 residents
  • Nevada- 20.14 per 10,000 residents
  • Madison- 17.42 per 10,000 residents
  • Bradley- 14.61 per 10,000 residents
  • Little River- 14.49 per 10,000 residents

State officials say they will help the northwest region and give them more resources to combat their surge of COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Smith said the coronavirus is extremely contagious in certain settings, like prisons and nursing homes.

There will be an increased opportunity for state employees to return to work on Monday with protections like personal protective equipment and social distancing, according to state officials.

State officials say the plan for schools in the fall is a work in progress. According to officials, every district is planning to be open, but they are building a blended teaching environment of classroom and online instruction.

Dr. Smith said his department has seen an increase of children with the coronavirus, but it’s from a home setting and not from other kids at daycare or day camps.

State officials say deep cleaning is not as important as the spacing between people in workplaces.

According to Dr. Smith, more than 200 people are working on contact tracing and 100 more volunteers are training to be added to the mix.

Governor Hutchinson also said he will extend the emergency for another 45 days after it was due to expire.

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