State pleased with progress on meeting criteria for gradual reopening


Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters at Monday’s statewide COVID-19 briefing that he is upbeat when it comes to meeting the gating criteria for phase one of the Open Up America Again program, thanks to some downward trends related to the coronavirus. The state has set May 4 as the tentative date to begin lifting some restrictions.

Officials acknowledged Arkansas has not met all criteria within the 14-day period recommended for beginning phase one, but states will have flexibility if they continue to show declines in positivity rates.

The governor and health officials said they believe the state is trending well in such criteria as downward trajectories in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and those with influenza-like and covid-like symptoms.

Hutchinson also said the state is working with food processing plants in Arkansas on establishing social distancing and sanitization guidelines in the wake of COVID-19 outbreaks at such plants in other states. Arkansas, he said, is critical in the food chain for not only the nation, but also for the world.

Also, officials said the recent campaign for a surge in testing showed the state met its goal of at least 1,500 tests per day.

The Monday briefing was held earlier than usual because Gov. Hutchinson was scheduled to be on a 1 p.m. conference call with President Donald Trump and all other governors.

Other news from Monday’s briefing:

  • The statewide total of positive cases stands at 3,017 individuals with 76 new cases reported Sunday.
  • The Cummins State Prison Barracks now has a total of 856 inmates testing positive along with 50 staff members. Six inmates are now hospitalized. There are 32 inmate tests still pending, and 15 staff tests still yet to be processed.
  • There has been one more death in Arkansas, bringing the total to 50.
  • There are 109 patients currently hospitalized. Twenty-five patients are on ventilators.
  • There are 203 nursing home patients who have tested positive along with 115 staff members.
  • And officials noted there have been just over 40,000 tests processed in Arkansas since the crisis started.


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