Over 1,500 Arkansans have tested positive for the coronavirus since last Friday, bringing the state’s total number of cases over 20,000.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Monday the state saw 439 new coronavirus cases bringing the state’s total to 20,257, while the state’s death toll from COVID-19 rose by one to 265.
Speaking in his daily briefing on the pandemic, Hutchinson said both increased testing and a lack of compliance with public health guidelines are to blame for an increase in cases.
"We've also had perhaps a complacency among some of the population that they thought maybe we’re over this challenge with COVID-19, and nothing could be further from the truth," Hutchinson said. "And so we've tried to make sure that we isolated the cases and we identified those, and I think that's had a good result as you can see with the cases going in a better direction."
Monday’s uptick in new cases brought the state’s total number of active COVID-19 cases to 5,926, while the number of Arkansans hospitalized with the disease rose to 300.
Hutchinson said though the state’s daily increase in new cases appears to be going down, that could change.
"I would caution you that we don't know what this last weekend will bring. Not everyone behaved well over the weekend, and so it'll take a few days to see if there's any result from that. We hope not, and I expect when you look at where we are in cases, that we’ll have some spikes," Hutchinson said.
Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith said new cases, on average, appear to be going down in northwest Arkansas, though coronavirus activity is on the rise in central Arkansas.
"We are seeing progress in the northwest region of our state. We do have concerns though about central region, and so although we haven't had an explosive increase in cases, we're going to have to be very vigilant in this central part of the state because that's our most densely populated portion of the state," Smith said.
Washington County again had the highest increase of new cases with 92 people testing positive Monday. Pulaski County had 56 residents test positive, while Benton County added 48 new cases.
Gov. Hutchinson also announced the state has received 60,000 N95 face masks both through its own procurement efforts and from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Smith said the state’s coronavirus testing capacity has improved dramatically since the pandemic began, but still lags behind in one area.
"Where we really need to increase our capacity in the state is our hospitals, and UAMS has been doing a good job, many of our hospitals are testing, but they are limited by the [availability] of reagents for the platforms that they have," Smith said. "Until we can get a good supply chain for some of those platforms that they have in their hospital labs, we will be limited in what our hospitals can do."
According to the Health Department, a total of 167,168 coronavirus tests have been completed since the beginning of the month.