LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas on Tuesday marked another one-day record for new coronavirus cases, and the governor said plans to further loosen restrictions on businesses remained on hold because of the spike.
The Health Department said at least 7,818 people tested positive for the virus, an increase of 375 over the 7,443 reported Monday. The department said it marked the biggest one-day increase in cases among non-incarcerated people, as only one of the new cases was somebody who was incarcerated.
The true number is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. The number of people in the state who were reported to have died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, reached 136.
Officials said 132 people are hospitalized, a new high for the state.
The increases follow moves by the state to allow businesses that have closed because of the pandemic to reopen but with capacity limits and other restrictions. Arkansas did not have a stay-at-home order in place but had other restrictions Gov. Asa Hutchinson has been rolling back in recent weeks.
Hutchinson said moving the state into “phase 2,” where restrictions can be further loosened, is on pause for now.
“I don't think that would be appropriate to open up into phase 2 until we have more data and have more confidence," Hutchinson said.
The state's previous one-day record for new virus cases in the community was less than a week ago, when it reported 261 new cases on Wednesday.
The number of active coronavirus cases, excluding those who have died or recovered, has also increased since late May and reached a new high of 2,115.
Hutchinson attributed the rise in part to the state's push for more testing. He said the state's goal is to conduct 120,000 tests in June, double the goal he had set for May. The state surpassed that goal, with more than 80,000 tests conducted.
State Health Secretary Dr. Nathaniel Smith said much of the increase continued to be drive by cases in northwest Arkansas. Two of the three counties with the most new cases were Benton and Washington counties in the region.
Pulaski County in central Arkansas had the second highest number of new cases, and Smith said nearly half of those came from staff or patients at a Jacksonville nursing home.
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