LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Hutchinson updated the public on the current state of COVID-19 in Arkansas on Tuesday; stating that we are entering our 10th month in the pandemic.

Case levels are expected to rise after a very busy Thanksgiving weekend with reports of many choosing to travel during the holiday. 

The Arkansas Department of Health reported an increase of 1,950 new cases making the total of 159,309 cases.

10 deaths were also reported on Tuesday making that total 2,512.  Currently, there are 195 patients on ventilators; with 11 more added to hospitals, giving us 1.074 currently being hospitalized

Gov. Hutchinson also added that with a vaccine on the horizon it will still take a significant amount of time and effort to get it to those in need, but there is great effort going into the strategy behind it.  He said that It’s important for everyone to understand that when the vaccine is available there will not be enough for the top priority individuals – which are healthcare workers.

Top counties with new COVID-19 cases are Pulaski (178), Benton (171), Washington (140), Saline (101), and Greene (92).

The Governor says there is a growing national opinion that the schools should stay open.   He believes that keeping schools open is important.

He’s asking that the State Department of Education waive the $75 application fee for new teachers to get them out there more quickly to help with teaching.   Adding that they have done the same thing with nurses.  If nurses have already paid the fee before they announced the waiving of their fee they can get a refund.   Teachers will still have to have a background check.

Currently, we have 29 active modifications in schools due to COVID-19.  That number is down from previous weeks because most of the time that action is because of staffing issues due to quarantine.