As Arkansas approaches the end of April, testing for the COVID-19 has totaled 45,394 yielding 42,257 negative results and 3,137 positive cumulative cases. More than 1,000 Arkansans have recovered and at press 109 hospitalizations were reported with 25 patients on ventilators. There have been 57 COVID-19 novel coronavirus deaths in the state of Arkansas.
Gating criteria set by White House opening up America has three different categories and during the Monday media news conference, Governor Asa Hutchinson broke each category down into a chart and followed with a status. Hutchinson stated that Arkansas was on a downward trend.
Within the Gating Criteria of symptoms: There needs to be a downward trajectory of flu-like illnesses within a 14-day period and a downward trajectory of COVID-like cases for 14 days. Status: “We are seeing a downward trend of both daily emergency room visits and flu-like symptoms,” shared Gov. Hutchinson.
Gating Criteria – Cases: There needs to be a downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period or a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period (flat or increasing volume of tests). Status: The percentage of positive tests has been on a downward trend after the Cummins outbreak on April 14.
Gating Criteria – Hospitals: Each of the Arkansas hospitals need to be able to treat all patients without crisis care and have a robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing. Status: Arkansas has had this in place for some time.
Hutchinson reported the of his two-day testing surge was to increase daily tests from 1,000 to 1,500. On the two days of the campaign, Friday and Saturday, they had at or over 1,500 tests each day. Of the most recent 1,506 reports only 1.8% were positive, which is much lower than the 7.5% average positive total out of 40,074 tests.
At press deadline, there are 316 health workers who have tested positive for COVID-19, 203 residents in nursing home and 115 staff members within the homes have also tested positive. At Cummins, the total number of cases includes 856 inmates with 32 tests results pending and 50 staff with about 15 test results pending.
During Q&A, Gov. Hutchinson addressed the concern of food chain supply shortages. Gov. Hutchinson stated he has been in contact with food processing companies. “We have 60 food processing plants in Arkansas, so those plants are critical to Arkansas, the country, and the world in providing food. Secretary Smith has worked with these companies to help them stay open,” stated the Governor. To date, no plants have shut down in Arkansas.
In regard to tourism and the reopening of hotels and vacation sights, Gov. Hutchinson reiterated that all state park lodging remain closed and overall hotel restrictions were only about out-of-state travelers. Phase 1 still discourages travel, “As we look at criteria moving forward and the guidelines on opening things up, residents will still need to wear masks, practice social distancing and maintain group size limitations,” shared Gov. Hutchinson.
During the Saturday COVID-19 media update, Gov. Hutchinson and Secretary of Education, Johnny Key, stated that there will be no traditional graduation ceremonies before July 1. After July 1, they will convene in conjunction with the Arkansas Department and Health to present updates guidelines.
Gov. Hutchinson began announcing decision points leading to May 4th on Wednesday, April 29 with an announcement of the restaurant decision; April 30 with announcement on gyms decision; May 1, announcement of beauty and barber salons decision; and May 4 places of worship and larger venues.