Over 300 Arkansans have tested positive for the coronavirus for a fourth consecutive day as the state’s total caseload surpasses 10,000.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday the state saw 340 additional coronavirus cases, bringing the state’s total to 10,080. Six more Arkansans also died from COVID-19 for a death toll of 161.
Speaking in his daily briefing at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff, Hutchinson said it’s unclear to him when the state will begin to see declining numbers in new coronavirus cases, as well as declines in hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19.
"This is unpredictable, we haven't seen anything like this virus, and in fact many thought that the second wave would actually be this fall," Hutchinson said. "And across the country we see a second wave coming... Tennessee cases are up, you've got states all around us that the cases are up."
Tuesday’s increase brought the number of active COVID-19 cases in the state to 3,044, and the number of patients hospitalized with the disease to 173.
Pine Bluff was the site of the state’s first case of the coronavirus, identified in mid-March. Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith said the region continues to see a disproportionate number of fatalities from COVID-19.
"84% of our cases [in Pine Bluff] have ended up succumbing to COVID-19. That's more than five times the state average of 1.6%, and that's largely because many of our cases, especially early on, were in nursing homes here in Jefferson County," Smith said.
A total of 559 residents of Jefferson County have tested positive for the coronavirus, while 28 have died from COVID-19. Tuesday’s uptick of 340 new coronavirus cases included 34 inmates of correctional facilities in the state.
Hutchinson said he would announce more specifics Wednesday on whether Arkansas or individual regions of the state can move to a second phase of easing restrictions on businesses put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.