Arkansas officials are planning to dramatically increase the number of COVID-19 tests performed during May.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had committed 90,000 testing kits and swabs for Arkansas for May. The increased number of supplies, Hutchinson said, will enable the state to ramp up its testing efforts.
“One of the challenges in increasing testing is to have the kits, to have the swabs…this impacts our ability to increase testing in the commercial labs because it has to be sent to them and collected at different sites across Arkansas,” Hutchinson said.
“This will allow us, when we start receiving this, to increase our commercial testing capacity all through the state.”
State officials are currently awaiting the first shipment of testing kits and supplies from the federal government, and shipments will reportedly be delivered weekly.
Hutchinson said that further details on the state’s testing strategy will be revealed during Friday’s press conference. However, he said that increased testing will depend on having the testing kits distributed to the proper facilities and having a demand among Arkansas citizens.
For May, Hutchinson has set a goal of having 60,000 tests performed. According to the Arkansas Department of Health’s website, there have been a total of 59,003 tests performed in Arkansas as of May 6. There have been 55,435 negative tests and 3,568 positive tests as of that date.
According to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker, Arkansas has a testing rate of 2,278.96 tests per 100,000 people. This is a testing rate of approximately 2.28 percent.
When asked what the average number of tests per day is, Hutchinson responded that it varies, but that testing has increased since the state launched its two-day surge campaign on Friday, April 24 and Saturday, April 25. Before the surge campaign, he said tests average around 1,000 per day, and after the surge, the state averaged around 1,500 per day. In the 24 hours preceding Wednesday’s conference, Hutchinson said there had been 1,682.
In order to meet the 60,000 test goal, Hutchinson said that the average will have to increase to more than 2,000 tests per day.