Coronavirus in Arkansas: Governor Hutchinson, state leaders discuss reopening state park lodging


LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson, Dr. Nate Smith, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health and Stacy Hurst, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, gave an update Friday afternoon on the state’s response to the coronavirus.

As of Friday afternoon, there are 4,463 cumulative cases of the coronavirus and 98 deaths in the state, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson.

There was an increase of 97 cases over the last 24 hours, according to state officials. Of the new cases, 79 are in the community and 18 are in correctional facilities.

State officials say hospitalizations due to the virus decreased by four from Thursday, bringing the number of people currently hospitalized in Arkansas to 65.

Nine people are on ventilators, according to state officials.

No new deaths were announced Friday.

According to Dr. Smith, there are 975 active cases of the virus in the state. Of the active cases, 322 are in prisons, 102 are in nursing homes and 551 are in communities.

A substance rehab facility in Pope County reported nine cases. The facility was not named during the news conference.

According to state officials, 3,390 people have recovered from the virus in Arkansas.

Governor Hutchinson and Secretary Hurst announced Friday is the first day Arkansas State Parks lodges and cabins are ableto be used.

The governor also showed a graph showing the occupancy percentage for the top five cabins in the state parks. According to the graphs, 67.85 percent of the cabins at Devil’s Den State Park are occupied, 58.2 percent of the cabins in Crowley’s Ridge State Park are occupied, 51.68 percent at Lake Chicot State Park, 43.24 percent at Lake Catherine and 41.18 percent of cabins at Moro Bay State Park are occupied.

The governor also showed a graph of reservation holders. According to the graph, 71 percent of the reservation holders are Arkansas residents and 29 percent are from out of state.

The governor said he is encouraged by the reservations because they are not too far down from 2019.

Secretary Hurst said she’s optimistic this will be a very good May for the state parks.

According to Hurst, after someone has stayed in a lodge or cabin, the room will stay vacant for two or three nights, be cleaned by staff and then allowed to be stayed in again.

Hurst also said marinas are open and there are boat rentals and a lot of fresh bait.

Hurst announced that the East and West Summit Trail at Pinnacle Mountain will be reopened starting at 5 p.m. Parking will be limited to designated parking lots and uniformed officers will be enforcing social distance.

Governor Hutchinson also said as of Monday, all retail stores in Arkansas will be open for business. The only exception is bars, but the governor said there will be an announcement about bars on Monday.

“Arkansas is open and ready for business,” said Governor Hutchinson.

Governor Hutchinson announced Friday Arkansans can now visit to find the closest facility for COVID-19 testing.

Hutchinson also said as of Friday, there have been 29,389 test done in Arkansas so far in May. The goal is to complete 60,000 tests by the end of the month.

Dr. Smith announced starting Monday, tests before elective surgeries can be done up to 72 hours before the surgery, but advised tests still be done within 48 hours if possible. The previous guidance said tests had to be completed 48 hours prior to the surgery.

Governor Asa Hutchinson also said he doesn’t see a need to go back to where we were before phase one.

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