Arkansas aims to add hospital beds in preparation for “worst-case scenario,” governor says

Coronavirus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Governor Asa Hutchinson said at a press conference on Friday that models estimate there could be anywhere from 2000 to 15,000 Arkansans hospitalized due to the coronavirus in the coming months.

The governor announced the authorization of 10 National Guard personnel to assist the Arkansas Department of Health and Army Corps of Engineers with expanding the capacity of hospital beds in Arkansas.

“Our plan is to do all we can to beat the worst models, the worst-case scenarios,” Hutchinson said. “We’re committed not to have to make our healthcare providers make difficult choices.”

The governor said models show there could be 2000 cases by the first week of April and 3500 in Arkansas in two weeks. Hutchinson noted that the different models vary based upon information put into them and that projections could go down if the general population practices proper social distancing and ADH guidelines.

Arkansas has also placed an order for 500 ventilators, a move the governor called a “massive expansion of our current capacity.”

Hutchinson acknowledged that the Department of Defense could step in at any time to request those ventilators instead but said, “we’re fighting, we’re trying to get those ventilators we believe we will need.”

There are currently 48 people hospitalized in Arkansas due to COVID-19, up by 7 since the governor’s press conference Thursday, one day ago.

Seventeen patients in the state are on ventilators, according to Dr. Nate Smith with the Arkansas Department of Health.

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