Arkansas to enter Phase Two of reopening as hospitalizations hit new high

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas will enter Phase Two of lifting restrictions currently in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic on June 15, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced at his daily press conference on Wednesday.

“Americans are on the move, and they can’t be tied down, they can’t be restrained,” Hutchinson said.

Phase Two of reopening will take effect next Monday, June 15.

As cases continue to spike in Northwest Arkansas, Hutchinson had said in past press conferences that the state was considering a regional approach to reopening, but he affirmed on Wednesday that Arkansas would move together as a whole.

“The state is best served moving together, even though we have various regions with a current spike in cases,” the governor said.

Arkansas entered Phase One of reopening 35 days ago on May 4.

Hospitalizations in the state have since reached an all-time high with 181 patients around the state hospitalized with the virus. As Arkansas has expanded its testing capacity, confirmed coronavirus cases in the state have also risen sharply, with the state reporting triple-digit case counts for several days in a row.

Hutchinson said the state has not seen the data to establish a connection between the growth rate in cases and lifting of restrictions on May 4.

“Our data in Arkansas tells us that the growth rate in cases is not a result of lifting restrictions,” Hutchinson said said.

Phase Two will allow restaurants and bars to move up to two-thirds capacity .

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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