Governor: Arkansas virus hospitalizations near record level again

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson was joined by members of his cabinet to update citizens on the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday. Listen to the address in full here:

Arkansas virus hospitalizations near record level again

More than three dozen coronavirus deaths were reported Tuesday in Arkansas, as the pandemic shows no sign of letting up in the state.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson called the deaths “a motivation to protect others with our own behavior,” but he did not announce any new restrictions aimed to slowing the spread. Instead, Hutchinson repeated his call for people to wear masks and socially distance from those outside their households.

Along with the 39 new deaths, the state also reported nearly 2,300 new virus cases while hospitalizations increased by 28 to 1,081. That’s just under the record high last week of 1,088 current hospitalizations.

Arkansas’ rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by more than 400 cases, or 24%, over the past two weeks, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Arkansas’ rate of about 858 new cases per 100,000 people ranks as 27th in the country for new cases per capita, according to Johns Hopkins. One in every 205 people in Arkansas tested positive in the past week.

Hutchinson, a Republican, said Monday that he would visit communities in Arkansas this week and he planned a primetime address for Thursday night to discuss the virus.

The latest COVID-19 forecast from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health released Tuesday suggested that the virus will peak in Arkansas in late March.

“We conclude COVID-19 in Arkansas is now in a phase of a community spread in which the virus is so prevalent it can no longer be associated with a person or a place,” the report said. “We do not yet know the consequences of the Thanksgiving weekend, but expect it will add to the current growth in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.”