Monday, July 20 marks the day that Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s statewide mask mandate goes into effect. The governor made a comment at the beginning of his daily press conference in regards to the mandate.
“It’s still surprising to me as to how many people think wearing a mask is about protecting yourself and it’s really about helping your neighbor,” Hutchinson said. “It’s about being together as a state and simply working together to try to get through this pandemic, this challenge that we face and I think that you’ll see from the statistics today that we still have a lot of work to do.”
He reported a cumulative number of 33,927 COVID-19 cases in Arkansas. Over the weekend, there were 1,466 new cases with 771 new cases on Saturday and 695 new cases on Sunday. Today, there were 699 new cases with 688 in the community and 11 in correctional facilities.
“The fact that there are 11 counties with more than 20 new cases in each of those counties indicates that there is a lot of spread of COVID-19 across various parts of Arkansas and not just simply congregated in one area,” Hutchinson said.
Washington County had the most number of new cases with 94, Pulaski County had 60, Benton County had 57, Craighead County had 28, both Mississippi and Pope counties had 26, Sebastian County had 25, both Garland and Miller counties had 24 and both Faulkner and Arkansas counties had 21. All other counties had fewer than 20 new cases.
The number of hospitalizations have increased by 18 to 471 and the number of deaths has increased by six to 363.
Hutchinson pointed out that the state of Arkansas has a higher number of hospitalizations per capita than some of the larger states like Texas.
“In terms of hospitalizations per 100,000—so it’s per capita—Arkansas is too high,” he said. “You’ve got a number of states including Texas, that is getting so much publicity with their hospital capacity but we have more in terms of per capita hospitalizations than even some of those larger states and so that shows the potential stress on our hospital capacity [and] also some of the strain that our hospital workers will be under.”
During the month of July, there have been 112,646 COVID-19 tests completed across the state. State officials previously set the testing goal for the month at 180,000 on June 24, but modified it to 200,000 on July 6.
“Reaching 200,000 is going to be a difficult goal to achieve unless the commercial labs kick it up to a higher level in terms of their turnaround time [and capacity],” Hutchinson said. “I think we’ll be able to meet hopefully 180,000 which would be six percent of our population, but it’s just going to be a challenge to get to 200,000 where we are right now.”