Arkansas has seen its lowest number of new COVID-19 cases in more than a month as the total number of cases surpasses 50,400.
According to numbers from the Arkansas Department of Health, the state added 383 new cases. Hospitalizations and those on a ventilator both decreased by one for a total of 507 Arkansans hospitalized and 116 patients on a ventilator.
The number of deaths due to COVID-19 in the state increased by 11 for a total of 566.
Speaking during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s briefing on the pandemic Tuesday, Health Secretary Dr. José Romero said if the state sees several days in a row with similar cases totals, it could indicate a downward trend.
"And this is most likely attributable to the mask mandate and in order to keep that trend going down, we’re going to have to adhere to that and to keep in mind social distancing and other recommended measures," Romero said.
The state tested 4,140 cases over the past 24 hours, Hutchinson said while that number is around 1000 lower than the testing conducted the day before, Hutchinson said even with a 10% positivity, you would only add around 100 new cases.
"So even if you look at it from that perspective, we still had a very good day in terms of a lower increase in our cases," Hutchinson said.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in the state is now 50,411. Of those cases, 6,847 are considered active, with 60 in nursing homes and 817 in correctional facilities.
Pulaski County led the state in new cases, with 63. Sebastian and Carroll counties had 31 and 20 new cases respectively. No other counties had more than 20 new cases
The lower number of new cases comes as schools are preparing to open in two weeks. According to Education Secretary Johnny Key, the state is expanding its partnership with the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement to provide COVID-19 data by school district.
The data points, according to Key, will include the cumulative COVID-19 cases per school district population, the number of active coronavirus cases per school district population and the rates of testing by county.
"They will need this data to help them with the response levels. So as we see the cases occur that are connected with the school district. They can take this data, look at what’s going on in their district, look at what’s going on in their broader community and make decisions under the guise of the response level documents in conjunction with the Health Department and the Department of Education," Key said.
While district-wide data will become available, it will only be the total number of cases in the district as opposed to a more specific number of students and personnel with COVID-19.
This comes one day after the Arkansas Education Association released a statement calling for a virtual start to the school year as opposed to an in-person approach.