LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Arkansas rose to a new high on Tuesday, Governor Asa Hutchinson reported during his weekly virus update.
There are now a record 676 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, Hutchinson said, up by 27 since Monday.
The governor said that, in talking to state hospitals, he believes they have the capacity for the patients, but he was concerned some may have to stop performing elective procedures.
“As you look at the numbers, it’s been very important that we both take care of non-COVID patients and their medical needs, as well as our COVID patients. So you don’t want to have to cut back on either one of those.”
Hutchinson said there was no current plan to place any restrictions on elective procedures but that the decision could be made on a hospital-by-hospital basis.
According to Dr. Jose Romero, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health, a “good portion” of patients hospitalized represent older individuals, above the age of 65.
The governor announced 952 new cases in Arkansas on Tuesday, including 651 confirmed through PCR testing and 301 probable cases resulting from antigen testing.
The top counties reporting new cases include:
- Pulaski – 146
- Benton – 77
- Washington – 72
- Craighead – 66
The state saw its death toll rise to 1696 (+20) on Tuesday, Hutchinson said.
According to Romero, the majority of the new deaths — 16 —were from nursing homes.
Statewide, individuals over the age of 65 are experiencing the highest rate in case growth:
Romero said he believes this is because older Arkansans are becoming more lax in their approach to the virus, engaging in more social interactions with their families, some of whom may be asymptomatic and carrying the virus.
Hutchinson said the state received 7000 PCR and 1795 antigen test results over the last 24 hours.
Arkansas will do enough COVID-19 tests to cover 10% of the population.
So far in October, Arkansas has done almost 259,000 PCR tests and another 34,000 antigen tests.
Given those number, Hutchinson said he expects the state will pass 300,000 total tests this month.
“That is an applaud to our healthcare workers and our department of health and everyone for getting a test when you need a test and have a question about it. That is really significant progress that we’ve made,” he said.
The positivity rate for PCR tests in Arkansas remains below 10%.
You can watch the full weekly press conference from Tuesday, October 27 below: