Arkansas appears to be on a downward trend of COVID-19 cases as the total number of cases falls short of 21,200.
According to numbers from the Arkansas Department of Health, the state saw a total of 420 new cases Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 21,197. Of those cases, 5,757 are considered active. That’s a decrease of 219 compared to Tuesday’s numbers.
The number of Arkansans hospitalized also went down by 15 for a total of 275. The state did see an increase of seven in coronavirus deaths, with the total now 277.
Lee County had the highest number of new cases, with 69. Pulaski and Washington counties had the second and third highest, with 49 and 48 new cases respectively.
During the governor’s daily briefing on Wednesday, Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith broke down hospital and ventilator statistics.
"These data, current from June 25, that [of] the 1,300 ever hospitalized at that time, you can see 177, 13.6% had died. Now there were still 20% hospitalized so we don’t what will happen to those, but almost 2/3 of them were discharged and survived," Smith said.
Of the 203 ever on a ventilator, 57 have been moved off of it, 52 are still on it, while 94 have died, a percentage of 46.3%.
Smith also spoke on the non-respiratory side-effects some patients are seeing as a result of COVID-19.
"We think of it as a severe pneumonia, ventilators, et cetera, but we also have some severe non-respiratory complications. One is blood clots. That’s being recognized as a greater and greater problem, and it can affect people of all ages," Smith said.
Smith said these severe complications, which can include heart issues, serve as a reminder to Arkansans of the importance of slowing the spread of COVID-19 and wearing face masks.
The state continues to increase its testing capacity, though a recent NPR analysis found that Arkansas still falls short of the needed testing to mitigate the virus. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state met its goal for testing 120,000 Arkansans in the month of June.
"We went to 180,000 tests that were done, which is 6% of our population in Arkansas," Hutchinson said.
While the number of new cases appears to be on a downward trend, Hutchinson said he was concerned about the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.
"How do you balance, well we had a good day, and so people say 'Well, cases are going down so let’s go out and everything’s fine.' That’s not the case. And so we try to communicate it in many different ways, but hopefully Arkansans are getting the message that it is consistency is what we need and disciplined behavior and social distancing. And wearing a mask is a part of that," Hutchinson said.
At the beginning of the briefing, Hutchinson also addressed whether sports would resume for high schools and higher education. He said whether or not sports return in the fall depends on if Arkansans practice social distancing and wear masks now.
"We wear our masks. We reduce the cases. We reduce the growth. We stop the spread of the virus and that puts us in a better position to have some type of team sports this fall," Hutchinson said.