Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state is under the Arkansas Dept. of Health’s projection of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases during the daily press briefing Tuesday.
The model, which was introduced last week, projected by this time, there would be about 900 to 1,000 cases of positive COVID-19 cases in Arkansas. The governor and Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith announced there were 523 cases as of the briefing.
The model also projected by April 10, there would be about 3,500 cases of the virus in the state. Hutchinson said as long as people continue to follow the social distancing and 10 or less gathered directive, the state should continue to have fewer cases than projected.
“It gives the Arkansan really an objective, almost. Let’s do our part, let’s be self-disciplined,” Hutchinson said.
Smith said the ADH is working on another projection based on hospitalization data to give the state a better idea of what to expect.
During the briefing, the governor noted out-of-state travelers visiting some of the state’s parks are not following the guidelines set by the CDC or the health department for social distancing and group sizes. He said he’s waiting for recommendations from Sec. of Parks, Heritage and Tourism Stacy Hurst about if, and which, parks should be closed in interest of public health.
Hutchinson said he’s not considering checkpoints near state borders in order to maintain a good traffic flow for out-of-state workers. He also said the state doesn’t have the resources to have a checkpoint at every entry into the state.
Three new counties are reporting cases of COVID-19 — Columbia, Newton and Perry — increasing the number to 51 counties with positive cases.
Smith said of the 523 cases, 17 are children 18 and younger, 158 are 65 and older, and 348 are 18-64. He said 44 have diabetes, 39 have heart disease, 23 have chronic lung disease, 12 have chronic kidney disease and 16 have immunocompromised systems.
He also said of the 523 cases, 79 are health care workers, 64 are hospitalized, 23 are on ventilators and 35 have recovered.
Smith said there is also a new death. The individual was 65 or older in central Arkansas, totaling eight deaths for the state.
He also outlined the guidelines for individuals who tested positive for the virus versus those who were exposed to those who tested positive.
Smith said those who have tested positive, in accordance with the CDC guidelines, should wait seven days past the onset of illness and at least three days since having a fever to return to work.
Those who have been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 should self-quarantine at home for 14 days to cover the incubation period for the virus.
“That seems strange, it’s a time issue here — the person who’s a case has already gone through that (incubation) period,” Smith said.
Hutchinson said a decision has not yet been made regarding returning to on-site education, but a decision should be made in the next week or so. He said his priority is continuing education today.
According to the state health department’s map of cases by county, Union County has eight positive cases of COVID-19 with 95 negative results.