Arkansas reported 1,905 new coronavirus cases on Saturday bringing the number of active cases up to 17,745, a new record for the state.
The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients dropped slightly to 925 and 16 coronavirus deaths were reported Saturday, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports.
The state has reported a total of 143,821 coronavirus cases and 2,337 deaths from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Democrat Gazette.
“Though the number of new cases is slightly lower than yesterday, we know that that figure can fluctuate day to day based on a variety of factors, including testing,” state epidemiologist Jennifer Dillaha said, according to the local outlet. “We need to see sustained decreases over time, and that will require Arkansans taking steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.”
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) recently announced new measures to help stem the spread of coronavirus, including expediting the licensing of new nurses and requiring businesses that sell alcohol to close by 11 p.m.
Democratic Arkansas state Sen. Greg Leding voiced his support for Hutchinson’s actions, though he said there was still more that could be done to fight the virus.
“I don’t know what good the 11 p.m. curfew will do. The virus can’t tell time. We’re headed into the holidays with our ICUs at about 93 percent capacity, too few health care workers – all of whom must be exhausted and under tremendous stress – and we’re just not doing enough to save lives. And this isn’t just on Gov. Hutchinson. This is on the legislature, as well.”
With Thanksgiving coming up, Dillaha said the chances of seeing an increase in cases after the holiday depended on several different factors.
“We know that Arkansans want to celebrate the holiday with their families, but we are hopeful that they will plan this week to do so safely,” she said. “This could include meeting virtually instead of in-person or having a small, outdoor gathering where masks are used and physical distance is maintained.”
This goes in line with what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended for households, discouraging travel and advising people to keep celebrations limited to those within their immediate households.