State sees big jump in COVID-19 among inmates; Jackson County added to list of counties with cases


At today’s statewide COVID-19 briefing, officials announced a jump of 130 new cases — another single-day record of positives reported, bringing the number to 1,410. However, 98 of the 130 new cases originate from detention facilities.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported 43 out of 46 inmates in a barracks unit at the state’s Cummins Maximum Security Prison have tested positive while the Forrest City Federal Correctional Facility has 55 positive cases.

The state is letting the Centers for Disease Control take the lead on the Forrest City facility’s outbreak and helping when it can, according to the governor. Arkansas Health Department Secretary Dr. Nate Smith noted there will likely be more positives reported from Forrest City’s federal facility over the next few days.

With the Cummins unit, officials have the particular barracks quarantined, and inmates and staff from other barracks are being separated from each other. Hutchinson said the Cummins outbreak shows how quickly the coronavirus can spread in a “congregant setting,” or a closed, crowded space.

Other protective measures being put in place at state prisons: masks are being made for inmates and guards; there are regular rounds of cleaning; and, the state is continuing its restriction on visitors during this crisis.

Hutchinson also noted that there’s no indication Arkansas has reached the peak of the crisis, saying he homes it comes sooner, rather than later. The governor said that Arkansans must not let up or decrease the intensity of continuing social distancing, limiting gatherings to 10 or less, and wearing masks when social distancing is not practical.

In other news from the briefing:

  • As of this afternoon, there have been 30 coronavirus-related deaths recorded in the state.
  • The total number of positive cases among health care workers is 193. Smith said that 58 of the 193 have recovered.
  • Seventy-four patients are hospitalized. Smith noted the average hospital stay for a coronavirus patient is six to seven days.
  • Twenty-eight patients are currently on a ventilator.
  • And Jackson County reported its first positive case.


The new White River Now mobile app has started featuring regular COVID-19 updates and podcasts. In addition to the updates featured on the White River Now family of radio stations, the COVID-19 podcast section also features new interviews with Stone County Judge Stacey Avey, Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh, Independence County Judge Robert Griffin, state Sen. Stu Smith, and state Sen. James Sturch. Download the free White River Now mobile app today from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store, and keep up-to-date on all local and state coronavirus information and to listen to the streams of White River Now radio stations.

We also carry live feeds of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s COVID-19’s briefings on-air at Arkansas 103.3, online at White River Now’s Facebook page, and through the Arkansas 103.3 stream on the White River Now mobile app on Arkansas 103.3.

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