Arkansas has nearly 5,800 COVID-19 cases, 115 deaths

Report of positive COVID-19 tests at high school swim party, Gov. Hutchinson says

FULL BRIEFING 5/23: Gov. Hutchinson and ADH update for Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - The state of Arkansas has seen a second peak of COVID-19 cases, as state officials discussed a series of issues Saturday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Dr. Nate Smith, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health, updated the public during the 1:30 p.m. press conference on the state’s response to COVID-19, including the latest number of cases and deaths.

Gov. Hutchinson said the state has seen an impact in several areas, including the fact that nearly 3,200 tests were done in the past 24 hours.

The governor said the record level of testing has found more cases of COVID-19 in the state. The state saw several days of increases this week, ranging from 150 to 450 new cases.

Gov. Hutchinson said the rolling average shows a peak, then a deep dip in cases and a second peak in cases in a 30-day period.

Gov. Hutchinson noted the state remains in good shape over the number of hospital beds and hospitalizations, with the positivity rate for COVID-19 in the 5% level (half of the 10% rate required by federal officials).

However, the governor said residents should still be disciplined in their personal safety habits when dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor said he received word from a friend in Northeast Arkansas about positive tests at a high school swim party.

“This morning, I received a text from a friend in Northeast Arkansas, who had information from hospitals and the tests; and the story was that there were positive cases coming out of a high school swim party. A High School swim party, I’m sure, that everyone thought was harmless, they’re young, they’re swimming, just having activity and positive cases resulted from that,” Gov. Hutchinson said. “And so it’s encouragement for us to be disciplined in our activities and during this Memorial weekend, we want to be out. We want to enjoy ourselves. We want to remember this holiday and those that have served our country and given their lives and service to our country. But, let’s be safe and let’s be disciplined at the same time.”

No specifics were given as to where the party happened.

Both Gov. Hutchinson and Dr. Smith also gave an update on the health numbers.

As of 1:30 p.m. Saturday, the state had 5,775 COVID-19 cases, up 163 from Friday with 86 people hospitalized.

Dr. Smith said there has also been 115 deaths, up two from Friday; with 1,564 active cases and 17 people on a ventilator.

Gov. Hutchinson also said 12,930 claimants to the state’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program have been approved through payment or direct deposit as of Saturday.

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