The total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas has surpassed the 100,000 mark as the state added over 800 cases Tuesday.
According to numbers from the Arkansas Department of Health, the state added a total of 844 new coronavirus cases, with 628 of them confirmed and 216 probable. The cumulative total of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas is now 100,441.
During his weekly briefing on the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Asa Hutchinson also announced that he was limiting meetings and appearances after a possible exposure to the coronavirus during a meeting last Friday.
"There was an individual in the meeting that later tested positive. After contact tracing, I was notified early on Monday morning that there were questions about my exposure even though I’d remained over six feet away from the individual tested." Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson said he underwent both antigen and PCR tests on Monday. Both results returned negative. According to the state, Hutchinson will continue to undergo testing Wednesday, Friday and this coming Monday.
The briefing Tuesday was digital, with Secretary of Health José Romero and Secretary of Education Johnny Key participating through video chat, instead of at the governor’s office.
Speaking on the number of Arkansans hospitalized with COVID-19, which increased Tuesday by 24 for a total of 637, Hutchinson said there is a concern about hospital capacity.
"We’re all worried about the winter and the fact that our, if our flu season or other hospitalizations goes up, it’s hard to manage all of it together. And so it’s not just COVID that is taking hospital space, but it’s all the other issues of life that take hospital space as well," Hutchinson said.
The death toll due to the disease in the state increased by 14 for a total of 1,576.
Regional data from the state shows the northeast region of Arkansas surpassing northwest Arkansas for the highest seven-day rolling average of cases.
Speaking during his weekly briefing on the coronavirus, with today’s briefing taking place virtually, Gov. Asa Hutchinson spoke on the increase in the northeast part of the state.
"That is a significant reminder that the largest increase in cases right now, that blue line, is consistently moving up and is the top region of the state right now. So it’s a cautionary note that we have to work hard to bring that under control," Hutchinson said.
Pulaski County had the largest number of new cases Tuesday, adding 62 new cases. Washington County added 39, while Benton County added 38.
Romero said the continued increase of COVID-19 cases in the state indicates that the statewide mask mandate is not being as closely followed as the state would like.
"I want to remind everyone that it’s essential that we follow all of the recommendations for decreasing transmission, which is the mask coverings, [practicing] social distancing of six feet and washing our hands," Romero said. "We need to have at least 50% of the population use the mask and use these guidelines consistently in order to see a decrease in the number of cases we report each day."
According to Key, there are currently 16 schools in the state that are under modified on-site instruction due to the coronavirus. The total number of schools that at one point underwent modifications because of COVID-19 is now 158.