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State ‘not prepared’ for Phase 2 reopenings

State ‘not prepared’ for Phase 2 reopenings

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Governor backpedals on restriction rollbacks after spike in COVID- 19 cases

[email protected] With 130 new COVID-19 cases reported last Friday, Arkansas saw one of its biggest jumps in confirmed cases since the virus reached the state in March. There are currently 928 active cases in the state, with 522 cases in the community, 305 cases in correctional facilities and 101 cases in nursing homes. Of the 130 new cases, 113 come from the community in Union, Pulaski, Craighead, Jefferson, Sharp and St. Francis counties.

One additional person has died from coronavirus in Arkansas, raising the state’s death toll to 98.

'We don't believe these increases indicate an outbreak, they reflect increased testing in Arkansas,' Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during a news briefing on Thursday.

The Department of Health has begun reaching out to people who may have been exposed or who have tested positive for the virus in order to contact trace.

Hutchinson asked Arkansans to 'help us out' and answer calls from health officials.

A man recently released from Cummins Prison has tested positive for the virus, according to officials.

Hutchinson said all inmates are being tested prior to release, so the man had previously tested negative.

Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith said that they will be ramping up testing in response.

Arkansas businesses began to reopen under lighter COVID-19 restrictions last week. Previously, the governor planned on moving into Phase Two on Monday. Now, he said, the state is not prepared.

'This is not encouraging for a quick movement into phase two openings, but we will be evaluating the data,' Hutchinson said.

On Friday afternoon, there had been 4,366 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas; 3,340 people had recovered and 98 people had died.

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