Dr. Nate Smith, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health, told reporters at Tuesday’s statewide COVID-19 briefing that three new positive cases have been reported at a Batesville nursing facility. Smith did not name the facility at the briefing.
The three Batesville cases were part of a total of seven additional nursing home patients reported statewide since Monday, bringing the number of such patients to 135. Smith noted that 29 nursing homes are currently being investigated for coronavirus outbreaks.
Statewide, positive cases of COVID-19 soared to a number of 2,227 — that’s an additional 304 cases since Monday. However, 262 of those cases were from the Cummins State Prison Barracks outbreak. Forty-two of the 304 cases were civilians. The total number infected at Cummins was reported to be 680, with 10 of those cases being staff members.
Officials note COVID-19-positive prison numbers will likely still increase over the next few days, but when subtracting such congregant settings, new cases among Arkansans seem to be on the downward trend. Smith noted that last week the average number of new cases per day was 70. This week, the average number of new cases — less those in prison facilities — is about half that, Smith said.
Also at Tuesday’s briefing, Gov. Hutchinson introduced Steuart Walton (pictured above), the chairman of the state’s new Economic Recovery Task Force. Walton noted the task force had its first meeting today and created three committees led by state cabinet secretaries Stacy Hurst (tourism), Mike Preston (commerce), and Wes Ward (agriculture).
Walton said the group might have preliminary recommendations before the proposed May 4 date Hutchinson has set for the gradual reopening of the state’s economy.
Walton’s group will deliver an interim report at the end of May, and it will issue its final report by the end of June. The task force hopes to have a strategic set of recommendations to help Arkansas thrive in the recovery after the crisis.
Other news and statistics from the briefing included:
- There are 249 healthcare workers that have tested positive. That figure is up five since Monday.
- Twenty-seven patients are on ventilators. That’s up three since Monday.
- There has been one new death reported, bringing the total number to 43.
- And 860 recoveries have been reported. That’s up 60 from Monday.
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