The number of Arkansans who have died from COVID-19 has surpassed 700, as the state records its lowest day of test results in months.
The state added at total of 480 new COVID-19 cases, according to numbers from the Arkansas Department of Health. The total number of cases is now 57,374. Of those cases, 5,312 are considered active. Pulaski County added the highest number of new cases with 80. Faulkner County recorded 41 new cases while Sebastian County added 38
Speaking during his daily briefing on the pandemic, Gov. Asa Hutchinson spoke on a recent report from the White House that recently moved Arkansas from the red to the yellow in terms of test positivity, meaning Arkansas is now below a 10% positivity rate. Another aspect of the report measures the number of new cases per 100,000 population.
"If you are more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population, then you are in red. Well, we are still in red in terms of our new cases for last week. If we continue to make this progress, I’m hopeful that we’ll be in yellow soon. And so for Arkansas this would mean that we would be less than 3,000 new cases over the course of a week," Hutchinson said.
However, in the past 24 hours, Arkansas added 3,300 test results, which is the lowest amount recorded since at least early June. The state has also reported a cumulative number of 3,610 antigen tests.
Health Secretary Dr. José Romero warned against the public getting fewer COVID-19 tests due to "testing fatigue."
"Without those numbers, we cannot give an adequate forecast, an adequate idea of what the number of cases and the prevalence in your county and especially for schools, now that we’re working with [the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement] in getting school-based numbers," Romero said.
Romero stated that though insurance information is taken when a patient goes in for a COVID-19 test at a local health unit, if they do not have a way to pay for that test, the test will still be given.
Hutchinson spoke on the necessary precautions those who get a test should take, including an incident where an Arkansas student took a COVID-19 test, but did not wait for the results before going to school.
"We need everybody to take responsibility, and obviously if you have reasons to go get a test, then you ought to wait for that test result and not expose others during that time," Hutchinson said.
The number of hospitalizations fell by 24 for a total of 442, with the number of those on a ventilator staying the same at 108.
15 deaths were also recorded, bringing the death toll over the 700 mark to 711. Romero said of those 15 deaths, seven of them came from nursing homes across the state.
"It’s important to keep in mind that nursing home patients because they are elderly are at [a] very high risk for severe outcomes of this disease and it’s one of the reasons why we have programs in place to limit visitation depending on the number of cases. So bear in mind if you go and you visit your relatives in the nursing home," Romero said.
Two of the deaths recorded Tuesday were from months prior, according to Romero.