Northwest Arkansas Continues To Drive COVID-19 Case Growth As Hospitalizations Rise

Jun 1, 2020

Gov. Asa Hutchinson motions to a graph displaying the seven-day rolling average of new coronavirus cases in the northwest Arkansas region at a news conference in Rogers.
Credit Governor's Office / YouTube

Over 650 Arkansans have tested positive for the coronavirus since last Friday as the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 rises to 121.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Monday the state saw 190 new coronavirus cases since Sunday, bringing the total to 7,443. No new deaths from COVID-19 were reported with the state’s death toll remaining at 133.

Speaking during his daily briefing on the pandemic in Rogers, Hutchinson said the resurgence in cases means the state will not move to a second phase of easing restrictions on businesses in the near future.

"While we're not going to be quickly going to Phase Two until we get a handle on the current uptick in cases, we have to learn to manage our way through this crisis," Hutchinson said. "I'm talking about managing the risk, making sure that we can go to work, we can go to school, we can have our normal life… but at the same time being safe."

Hutchinson made his remarks in the northwest Arkansas city as that region continues to see the fastest growth in new cases in the state. As of Monday over half of the state’s 1,909 active cases were from northwest Arkansas, with almost two-thirds of those from Benton County.

A graph displays the number of new coronavirus cases in Arkansas.
Credit Arkansas Department of Health

Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith said the outbreak continues to impact minority communities in the region.

"We've mentioned we've seen a growing number of cases in the Latino community and of those cases that we've had in northwest Arkansas, 43% have been among the Latino community. We have currently in northwest Arkansas, 985 active cases," Smith said.

Hutchinson said he met with local leaders in the Marshallese and Latino communities on Monday, as well as officials with poultry plants in northwest Arkansas. 571 workers in the state’s poultry industry have tested positive for the coronavirus, with Latinos making up just under three-quarters of those infections.

Smith said there are likely more infections the state does not know about in the region as COVID-19 testing becomes more widespread.

A graph displays the number of new cases of the coronavirus in Arkansas, not including nursing home residents or prison inmates.
Credit Arkansas Department of Health

"We’ve done a lot of testing here in [the] northwest region but we are still behind the rest of the state. We have done 281 tests per 10,000 people in northwest Arkansas whereas for the whole state we've done 442," Smith said.

While Arkansas’s resurgence in cases prevents more easing of restrictions under the Trump Administration’s “Opening Up America Again” plan, Hutchinson said the state will not undo its lifting of restrictions on businesses and other activities.

"We're still going to be having the virus as a threat to us in the fall. We can't be restricted forever, we can't be sheltered in place over that long a period of time, and we haven't done that before, and so lifting the restrictions in Phase One is consistent with where we need to go," Hutchinson said.