FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — An unpublished document prepared for the White House Coronavirus Task Force shows Arkansas among 18 states in the “red zone” for new COVID-19 cases and recommends reverting to more stringent strategies in some counties, like closing bars and gyms, according to an article published by the Center for Public Integrity on Thursday.

States in the “red zone” for cases reported more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population in the last week.

The 18 states in the red zone for cases in the document, dated July 14, are: Alabama, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

The report recommends that Arkansas close bars and gyms in “hot spot counties” and “mandate the use of masks and all current and evolving hot spots.”

Governor Asa Hutchinson mandated the use of masks in Arkansas on Thursday but has so far resisted calls to close bars and gyms, either regionally or statewide.

The document shows 13 counties in Arkansas identified as state “red zones,” reporting both new cases above 100 per 100,000 population and a diagnostic positivity result above 10%. Those counties include:

  • Washington
  • Benton
  • Hot Spring
  • Yell
  • Lee
  • Crittenden
  • Sevier
  • Johnson
  • Mississippi
  • Miller
  • Chicot
  • Carroll

Public messaging policy recommendations for these counties include:

  • Wear a mask at all times outside the home and maintain physical distance
  • Limit social gatherings to 10 people or fewer
  • Do not go to bars, nightclubs, or gyms
  • Use take out or eat outdoors socially distanced
  • Protect anyone with serious medical conditions at home by social distancing at home and using high levels of personal hygiene, including handwashing and cleaning surfaces
  • Reduce your public interactions and activities to 25% of your normal activity

The document recommends that public officials close bars and gyms in these counties and create outdoor dining opportunities with pedestrian areas.

Arkansas is in the “yellow zone” for positivity rate, reporting a diagnostic test postivity rate of 8.5 percent int he document.

The 11 states in the red zone for positivity rate (above 10%) include Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas and Washington.

When it comes to testing, the report recommends that Arkansas continue to expand its testing capacity in Public Health labs, adding shifts and weekend shifts to decrease turnaround times. It also recommends instituting a “2:1 pooling of test specimens.”

In hot spot counties, the report recommends moving to community-led neighborhood testing and working with local community groups to increase access to testing. It advises surge testing and contact tracing resources be directed to neighborhoods and zip codes with the highest case rates.

You can download the full report below: