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Nearly 800 New COVID-19 Cases In Arkansas, State Lifts Mandatory Testing Before Elective Surgeries

Governor's Office

Arkansas has lifted a directive that required all patients about to undergo an elective surgery to get tested for COVID-19 beforehand. This decision comes as almost 800 more cases of the coronavirus were recorded on Thursday.  

According to numbers from the Arkansas Department of Health, the state added 791 new cases, bringing the state’s total to 41,559. Of those total cases, 6,580 are considered active.

During Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s daily briefing on the coronavirus on Thursday, acting Secretary of Health Dr. José Romero spoke on the decision to repeal the directive.

"Of the number of tests that were done and the number of positives that were encountered, it was a very small percentage, a decision was made to leave that decision up to the individual physician and institution. So the directive to perform, the requirement of presurgical COVID testing will be eliminated," Romero said.

According to Romero, physicians and institutions can still require a test if they deem it necessary.

Credit Governor's Office
This chart shows the cumulative number of COVID-19 tests conducted this month.

Hutchinson spoke on the testing efforts in Arkansas for July. So far, Arkansas has tested 181,456 this month.

"Which means it’s 6% of the population in Arkansas that we’ve tested this month. That’s a high watermark. It is very successful and yes I know we said in a cocky moment that we’re going to do 200,000 tests. We still have two days. It’ll be close but we might not make that goal," Hutchinson said.

Hospitalizations decreased by four for a total of 504.  Those on a ventilator also decreased by seven for a total of 101. However, the death toll due to the coronavirus in Arkansas increased by eight for 442 deaths.

These numbers come as the state continues its plan to reopen schools the week of Aug. 24, less than a month away. Hutchinson spoke on that plan during his daily briefing on the coronavirus.

"There’s obviously nervousness about it. There’s uncertainty and that’s just a natural part of whether it’s state workers returning or whether its other factory workers that’s going to work. In this environment [there’s] clearly a nervousness about it and we want to make it as safe and healthy as we can and those are the steps we’re going to be taking between now and August 24," Hutchinson said

Thanks to a new tool from the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, the number of active coronavirus cases in cities where there are at least 10 cases is now accessible. Speaking during the briefing. Dr. Joe Thompson, former Arkansas Surgeon General and president of the ACHI, spoke on the new available data.

"We think this is important. I was on a phone call with the [Arkansas] Municipal League and its membership this morning. Those local leaders need information that they can put into action to make sure that their citizenry that this COVID virus is in their community," Thompson said.

According to data from the ACHI, Little Rock has the highest number of active cases with 495. Springdale has the second highest with 421. According to its website, the ACHI plans to update the numbers on a weekly basis. 

Sarah Kellogg was a Politics and Government reporter for KUAR from November 2018- August 2021.
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