Gov. Asa Hutchinson held his statewide coronavirus briefing from the campus of the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB) on Wednesday afternoon.
Kicking off the briefing, Hutchinson noted he had met earlier with Independence County Judge Robert Griffin, Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh, and other local leaders about the region’s progress in the COVID-19 battle.
The governor said Independence County is doing a “very good” job in its handling of the pandemic although the Northeast region of Arkansas leads the state in terms of the percentage of the growth rate of COVID-19 cases. (See chart below.)
Hutchinson noted the growth rate of new cases in Independence County had a 6.8 percent increase in the period of Sept. 6 through Sept. 12, which is about in line for a good portion of other Northeast region counties. In the same period, Jackson County experienced an almost 35 percent growth rate, however the governor noted that county’s correctional facilities might be a factor in its numbers. (See chart below.)
When asked about Independence County’s poultry industry and the potential for the virus to spread at such plants, the governor said that in comparison to other regions of the state and country, the local poultry facilities have responded well to the pandemic and have made it a high priority to ensure the safety of their workers.
During his remarks at UACCB’S Independence Hall, the governor mentioned young people as being the fasting growing group of new COVID-19 cases.
The governor also discussed the new modeling from UAMS, which indicates more than 2,000 deaths from COVID-19 are possible by Oct. 31. Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero said it is important to note the model is a prediction, not an absolute. Dr. Romero said being vigilant about social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing your hands often are all ways to reduce the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths.
The governor also stated the modeling headed into the winter months takes into account Arkansas’ schools and universities resuming classes, and he complimented the state’s students on their efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The governor was asked about festivals and community events and said the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) will assist any organization seeking to assemble a plan for events. Such plans must be approved by the ADH.
Hutchinson went on to praise the “frontier spirit” of Independence County residents, saying the citizens of the area have weathered economic hardships, health crises, and mother nature in the past, and he believes they will withstand our current situation as well.
In terms of Wednesday’s statistics, Hutchinson said the state had 606 new positive cases within 24 hours, bringing the overall total to 70,731. Hospitalizations declined by two to bring the total number to 387. There have been seven additional deaths bringing the statewide figure to 1,010. And there’s now a total of 64,145 recoveries.
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