LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced plans Monday for a series of community meetings across Arkansas to address the growing surge of coronavirus cases.
Hutchinson's office said the governor will have meetings this week in Benton, Springdale and Jonesboro, followed by more next week in other cities. The governor also planned to give a speech Thursday night for a statewide audience.
The announcement came as Arkansas reported a state daily record for COVID-19 deaths, with 53. That brought the state’s reported total death toll to 2,713. The Arkansas Department of Health also reported 1,118 new cases, for a total so far of 172,042 confirmed and probable cases.
The true number of infections in Arkansas is likely higher because many people haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
Hutchinson said last week that he's considering requiring state approval for smaller indoor events. Under the state’s current coronavirus restrictions, indoor events with more than 100 people expected must have a plan approved beforehand by the state.
But overall, the Republican governor has resisted calls for widespread restrictions, such as stricter capacity requirements on indoor dining, which has been recommended by the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Arkansas' rolling average number of daily new virus cases has increased by 21% over the past two weeks, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. One in every 205 people in Arkansas tested positive in the past week, researchers said.
The Arkansas Department of Health on Monday reported that 1,053 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus in the state.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. The vast majority of people recover.