Arkansas has recorded its highest number of daily COVID-19 cases to date, as the total number of coronavirus cases in the state surpasses 64,000.
According to numbers from the Arkansas Department of Health, the state added 1,094 new cases to its total. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in the state is now 64,175. While Friday’s number of daily cases is a state record, Arkansas also added the 11,254 testing results in the past 24-hour period, which is the largest total number of test results reported.
The number of those hospitalized decreased by 24, for a total of 401. Those on a ventilator is now 86, which is a decrease of five. 12 more Arkansans have died from the coronavirus. The death toll is now 873.
Speaking during his daily briefing on the pandemic Friday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson spoke on the record high testing results, with over two thirds of those results coming from commercial labs.
"And I think this is what we’re going to see from time to time. The commercial labs seems to be coming in, in batches... So these tests that are coming in could have been results on previous days," Hutchinson said.
Washington county again led the state in new cases with 215. Pulaski county added 87, while Benton county had 56.
According to the Health Department, of the 215 cases in Washington county, which houses the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, 82% of those cases were in the age range of 18-24.
Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero called the upcoming holiday weekend a "very anxiety provoking period" for those in public health.
"We know that you all want to let loose a little bit. We want to remind the public that it’s important that you continue to maintain what we’ve talked about all along. That is the social distancing, the using of the masks and the sanitation," Romero said.
Hutchinson spoke on the new announcement from the University of Arkansas that bans all non-academic gatherings of more than ten people both on and off campus. This does not include athletics
"This is an admonition to the students that even if you’re living off campus, under the student code of conduct you have to follow the school’s rules and there’s consequences for not doing that and Chancellor [Joseph] Steinmetz emphasized that they would use the student code of conduct to assure compliance and try to obtain compliance by the students," Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson also said he spoke with Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan, who said he would be devoting additional law enforcement resources to enforce social distancing measures with students and others.
Romero made a direct plea to college students in the state to follow public health guidelines when it comes to the coronavirus.
"We need your help. You are part of our communities and as [a] part of our communities, we would ask you to please adhere to those guidelines. We have worked so hard to drive the incident rates down in many of these counties and we’d hate to see them go back up again," Romero said.