The total number of coronavirus cases in Arkansas has surpassed 35,000 as the number of hospitalizations dropped one day after reaching a new highest peak.
According to numbers from the Arkansas Department of Health, the state added 591 new COVID-19 cases. While this number is lower than previous days, the amount of testing also decreased. The total number of cases is now 35,246, while the total number of active cases is 6,876.
The number of hospitalizations, which reached its highest point on Tuesday, dropped by 14 for a total number of 474. Six more Arkansans have died from COVID-19 bringing the death toll to 380.
Speaking during his daily briefing on the coronavirus, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said a higher positivity rate of cases could be a result of not enough testing happening in a specific area.
"The more you test then in an ideal circumstance, that positivity rate will be lower because you’re testing more that might be asymptomatic and not just demonstrating some symptoms," Hutchinson said. "So that’s one of the reasons that we would like to have testing at a higher level. We’ve set those goals. We’re trying to accomplish that. But we’ve got a challenge. Even though we’re testing at a good level, it’s not as high as we’d like to see."
Of the new cases announced Wednesday, Pulaski County saw the highest number with 80 new cases. Benton and Washington counties has the second and third highest amount, with 46 and 38 cases respectively.
Dr. José Romero, acting Health Secretary, said in Washington County, 72% of the cases are in Arkansans 44 years of age or younger.
"Which actually points to the fact that these are individuals that are engaged in work and are acquiring the disease in the community, or possibly spreading it at their work sites," Romero said.
Of the total deaths in the state, Romero said 39 deaths, a little more than 11% come, from Washington County. Of those deaths, around 60% or 23 are in the county’s Marshallese community.
When asked about the upcoming school year and the risk for students and teachers, Romero said the risk of coronavirus spread is not as high in younger students.
"Children ten and older may be more capable of spreading and similarly as you get into an adolescent, an older adolescent like an adult. In essence, they’re not high risk for anyone in particular or for spreading it in their classroom environment the younger they are," Romero said.
According to NPR, while it appears as though children do have a lower rate of infection compared to adults, because schools closed before the peak of the pandemic, there is a lot unknown about how it spreads in children.