The Arkansas death toll from the coronavirus is now over 800 as the state has recorded almost 61,500 cumulative COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.
The Arkansas Department of Health added 273 new COVID-19 cases to the state’s total, which is now 61,497. Of those cases, 5,036 are considered active. The number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 increased by three for a total of 423.
17 more Arkansans have died from COVID-19 and the death toll is now 814. According to the department, six of those deaths were delayed reports, with one from June and five from July. Five deaths were from nursing homes and one from a correctional facility.
Though the number of new cases is lower than previous days, the number of testing reported in the past 24 hours is also lower, with 3,530 tests reported.
Arkansas did not reach its goal of conducting 190,000 tests for August, reporting 186,379 tests instead. The state lowered its goal for September to 180,000.
Speaking during his daily briefing on the pandemic, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said while the state did not meet its testing goal, it still tested around 6.2% of its population.
"And so it illustrates we’re about that 6% mark of the population. I’m very pleased with that. That’s a good goal every month if we can do that. That gives us a good indication to where we are in the state," Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson also spoke on some newly released data from death certificates in the state that shows 94.5% of people who died due to COVID-19 in the state had other contributing factors such as diabetes, heart failure and others, while 5.5% of deaths had no other factor.
"The guidelines are that if COVID is the primary cause or death, or it is a contributing cause of death, then it is counted as a COVID-19 death. That is what we’re required to submit for statistical purposes," Hutchinson said.
Only four counties in the state recorded more than 20 new cases. Pulaski county added 44 new cases. Benton county had the second most with 29. Sebastian county and Washington county had 24 and 21 cases respectively.
Dr. Austin Porter with the Arkansas Department of Health, spoke on the state’s efforts of adding positive cases from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville to the state’s total.
"There is a delay in when the cases come from the University of Arkansas to when it gets reported to us. So you will see those numbers that are being reported by U of A in future reports and we will be relaying that information to the public as we receive it," Porter said.
According to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville’s dashboard, the university reported 151 new cases between August 28 and August 30.
When asked about an impending lawsuit that lists several lawmakers in the Arkansas General Assembly as plaintiffs against the Department of Health over coronavirus restrictions, Hutchinson said that he feels confident in the authority given to the state by the legislature.
"There’s a minority of legislators that have expressed a desire to have the courts consider it. I don’t think that’s wise to have the courts involved with it, but anybody can file a lawsuit and to my knowledge that lawsuit has not been filed," Hutchinson said.
Rep. Dan Sullivan, R-Jonesboro, says he plans to file the lawsuit Thursday, August 3.