Governor says coronavirus positivity rate in Washington and Benton County ‘way too high’


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Governor Asa Hutchinson said on Tuesday that the COVID-19 positivity rate in Washington and Benton Counties indicates community spread, but he would not reinforce restrictions lifted under Phase One and Two of reopening in Arkansas.

Washington County has reported a postivity rate (out of all tests conducted, how many came back positive for COVID-19) of more than 10 percent every day since May 21.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a positivity rate below 10 percent. The World Health Organization recommends a positivity rate below 5 percent.

According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, if a positivity rate is too high, that may indicate that a state is “only testing the sickest patients who seek medical attention, and is not casting a wide enough net to know how much of the virus is spreading within its communities.”

“In Benton and Washington County, the positivity rate has been way too high, and that shows that there is the community spread,” Hutchinson said Tuesday in Hot Springs at his daily coronavirus press conference.

The CDC says community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Hutchinson encouraged people to be disciplined, wear face masks, and practice social distancing, but, when asked about scaling back from Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan, the governor stood by his decision to lift restrictions.

“We’re restricting restaurants, venues to two-thirds of their capacity. Those are safe measures,” Hutchinson said. “As we’ve said before, there’s not, we don’t have any data, to indicate there’s a correlation between lifting the restriction — going to phase two — versus the increase in cases. We’ll continue to study the data and respond to it, but that’s what we’ve found so far.”

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