LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas on Monday reported 16 more deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, and 35 more people hospitalized as a White House task force said the state had the 4th highest rate of new virus cases in the country.
The Department of Health reported that the number of deaths since the pandemic began in March now totals 1,197. The number of deaths includes both confirmed and probable cases.
The number of confirmed virus cases rose by 596 to 74,286. The number of active confirmed cases in the state now totals 6,299. The actual number of cases in Arkansas is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. The state said 447 people are currently in the hospital because of COVID-19.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force said in a weekly report dated Sunday that Arkansas remained in the “red zone” for new cases, with 204 new cases per 100,000 population last week. The state had a 6.8% test positivity rate, putting it at 18th in the country and in the “yellow zone,” the panel said.
Two-thirds of Arkansas’ counties have moderate or high levels of community transmission, the panel said.
In its recommendations, the task force said it applauded Gov. Asa Hutchinson in the state’s mitigation efforts.
“However, there is a need to strengthen compliance,” report noted.
The report also called on Arkansas to “dramatically” increase testing at universities to quickly find and quarantine cases on campus to prevent spread in the surrounding community. It also recommended the state use positive incentives to encourage testing among students.
Hutchinson said in a statement that the state was doing “outstanding” work on identifying and tracing cases across the state, and that he planned to talk about the latest White House report at his weekly news conference Tuesday.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and a cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Additionally, Arkansas reported that active cases at its K-12 public schools has increased to 748. The state is requiring public schools to offer in-person instruction five days a week, though they can also offer virtual classes or a hybrid approach.
Active cases at the state’s colleges and universities dropped to 701, according to the report, though there were discrepancies between the state’s numbers and those released by individual campuses. The University of Arkansas reported 127 active cases on its main campus in Fayetteville, less than the 324 in the state’s report.
Arkansas State University in Jonesboro reported 120 active cases, higher than the 32 listed in the state’s latest report.
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