Arkansas added nearly 400 new daily COVID-19 cases to its total as the cumulative number of cases nears 67,000.
The number of cases comes as Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced he will hold the final weekday COVID-19 briefing Friday and will instead switch to a weekly update or on an as-needed basis.
Speaking on the decision, Hutchinson cited a greater accessibility of COVID-19 data from the Arkansas Department of Health as one reason for the change, though fewer briefings does not mean the dangers of COVID-19 have diminished.
"Just because we’re not having a daily update does not mean that we are not in an emergency. We continue to be in an emergency as long as we have the national emergency as well as we have the case counts that we’re having. That emergency continues and it’s not going to diminish my attention to this," Hutchinson said.
According to numbers from the Arkansas Department of Health, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state is now 66,804. The number of hospitalizations decreased by 19, for a total of 392 hospitalized. Those on a ventilator decreased by three. That total is now 79.
12 more Arkansans have died from COVID-19 in the state, bringing the death toll to 940. Of those cases, the Department of Health says three of them were delayed reports.
Hutchinson said he was pleased with the past few days’ case numbers, all of which stayed below 400.
"My sense is that people are taking it very seriously as we go back to school. That they are following the guidelines to a greater extent in Arkansas. And then, actually we haven’t talked about it much lately, but I think our contact tracing has proven to be very successful in identifying clusters and doing the isolation quarantine to stopping additional spread," Hutchinson said.
The state reported 4,900 testing results in the past 24 hours, not including antigen tests.
Pulaski County led the state in new cases with 72. Washington County added 37, while Jefferson County added 33. Hutchinson spoke on Washington county’s numbers, which have been lower than recent highs of over 200 cases last week.
“I hope that’s an indication that we’re making progress at the University of Arkansas and I know that they’re working very diligently on that,” Hutchinson said.
According to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville’s COVID-19 dashboard, there are a total of 888 active COVID-19 cases on campus, with 90 of them added between Sept. 7 and 8. The state has previously said that there will be a delay between when universities report cases and when said cases show up in state data.
Two more school systems in Arkansas are making temporary adjustments due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Dr. Ivy Pfeffer, Deputy Commissioner with the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education at the Arkansas Department of Education, all of the school districts in the state have submitted their “district support plans,” which outline how the district will provide a curriculum for the school year.
“These plans are also important because they outline the communication that the district will engage in with the communities about learning options and also assure that students will have the necessary resources as we continue to work throughout the year,” Pfeffer said.
Pfeffer also stated that Tuckerman High School in the Jackson County School District and one class in the Fordyce School District are both pivoting to virtual-only learning as they each deal with COVID-19 cases. The Foredyce class will be virtual until the end of the week, while Tuckerman High School will be virtual through Sept. 21.