Gov. Asa Hutchinson is planning to reach his stated goal of 60,000 COVID-19 tests during the month of May.
During his daily press briefing, Hutchinson compared the state’s efforts against COVID-19 to warfare, with testing serving as a warning system for the virus.
“If we’re in a war, radar tell us where the enemy is on the horizon. Testing is our radar system. It gives us an early warning capability for where an uptick will be, where there’s an increase potential of an outbreak and we can get a handle on it,” he said. “That is our objective. We have to learn to live and manage and work through the potential of COVID-19 in the next year until we get a vaccine. To accomplish that, testing is a critical part of that infrastructure.”
As of May 12, Arkansas has performed 23,949 tests for COVID-19 during May. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 public health emergency, there have been 73,215 tests conducted, according to the Arkansas Department of Health’s website. The May tests account for 32.7 percent of the state’s total tests.
According to Arkansas Department of Health Dr. Nathaniel Smith, the state is well-positioned to meet the testing goal. He expects to increase the testing rate in order to exceed the 60,000 mark.
“If we continue at this pace, then we will actually exceed that since there are 31 days in the month. My goal is for us to increase the rate and to exceed the goal,” Smith said.
Based on the current numbers supplied by Hutchinson and the Department of Health, the state has performed an average of 1,995.75 tests per day in May. Assuming that rate is maintained, the state will perform 37,919.25 tests over the remaining 19 days during May. Combined with the previous tests, this would equal 61,868.25 tests.
The state will be receiving some assistance from the Community Health Centers of Arkansas. LaShannon Spencer, Community Health Centers CEO, announced that the organization has committed to collected 2,000 COVID-19 tests.
“They collect the samples and they send them in…to the testing laboratories or to the Department of Health,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson first announced the 60,000 testing goal on May 6, along with the news that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had committed 90,000 testing kits and swabs to Arkansas for the month of May.