Arkansas saw its third highest number of new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday as the total number of cases in the state nears 11,000.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, 448 new cases have been recorded. The total number of cases is now 10,816. Of those cases, 3,294 are considered active.
The total number of Arkansans hospitalized with COVID-19 is now 187. That’s an increase of six. 171 Arkansans have now died from the coronavirus, also an increase of six compared to yesterday.
Speaking during his daily briefing on the coronavirus, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state is currently on track to meet its goal of testing 120,000 residents during the month of June. That's twice the number of tests the state wanted to complete in May.
"We’re already here on June 11, at 45,000. Our new goal is 120,000 and we’re on target meet that. And so we’re on target to meet that and so we’re continuing to expand our testing," Hutchinson said.
Northwest counties Washington and Benton once again led the state in the number of new infections. Washington saw 143 cases, while Benton had 78. Pulaski County, which led the state in new cases on Wednesday, saw 37 new cases. Of the new cases in Washington County, 93% came from Springdale.
According to Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith, a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is arriving in northwest Arkansas tomorrow to aid with the number of cases there.
"Their goal is to help us to better understand the dynamics of transmission in the northwest part of the state, particularly in Washington and Benton counties. Helping to understand this interplay between transmission in the home, in the community and in the workplace, and we are hoping that those insights will better enable us to break those cycles of transmission," Smith said.
Smith said the CDC team will also aid the state with how to reach out to and communicate with the state’s Latino communities, which are currently being impacted by the coronavirus at a disproportionate rate.
Despite the state experiencing its three highest daily increases of new COVID-19 cases in the past month, Hutchinson said the state hopes to resume in-class learning when the new school year begins, with the flexibility of online learning as needed.
Dr. Ivy Pfeffer with the Arkansas Department of Education's Division of Elementary and Secondary Education spoke on the “Arkansas Ready For Learning” plan, saying districts should be prepared to “pivot quickly” from in-class learning to remote learning, in the event of a possible increase of COVID-19 cases.
"The state will provide guidance resources and directives when necessary, that ultimately what school looks like is going to be guided by each local school district working with their local community," Pfeffer said.
Though the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb past its initial peak back in late April, the state will officially move onto to Phase Two of the Trump Administration’s Opening Up American Again plan on Monday, June 15.
Phase Two will allow businesses to increase its capacity of customers to two-thirds as opposed to one-third capacity.