LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - Dr. Nate Smith, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health, updated the public at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 20, on the state’s response to the coronavirus, including the latest cases of COVID-19, recoveries, and deaths.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who typically leads these briefings, was scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump at the White House to discuss reopening the economy and protecting the nation’s food supply.
On Wednesday, May 20, Dr. Smith said because of the governor’s trip, they will make an announcement on sports camps and team sports on Thursday, May 21
Dr. Smith said there are several counties with new cases, none of them are in Region 8.
The cases in Lincoln, Jefferson and St. Francis counties can be attributed to their respected prisons.
Dr. Smith said Crittenden County is also on that list but because of how close it is to Memphis, Tenn. He also touted the number of tests administered in the state that now stands at a total of 44,240 tests so far, expecting to exceed the 60,000 tests administered goal they have set for the month of May for the state.
Dr. Smith said the state unveiled a new dashboard on Wednesday to help the health department get details to the public.
He then talked about places of work which he called essential to the economic recovery in Arkansas.
He said business owners have a responsibility to make workers and customers feel safe that's because many employees spend more time at work than at home creating a risk of contracting COVID-19.
The health department said it's working with those businesses to track cases that may be confirmed at the workplace and ensure they know who all was in contact with the individual.
That’s what the state is doing right now with the Nebo Poultry plant in Dardanelle and Russellville because they have had 14 workers test positive.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Dillaha said the process they use for those worksites is the same that they use for individuals, which is contact tracing.
Dr. Smith said they know the workplaces are extensively tracking are the congregate settings like nursing homes and prisons.
That’s why the state has developed 2 teams to help develop training and processes for these settings.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Earlier, we said Nebo Poultry had over 100 positive cases. That is incorrect; the plant has only had 14 positive cases. We regret the error.