White House: Arkansas COVID-19 situation ‘worsening’

White House: Arkansas COVID-19 situation ‘worsening’
COVID-19 generic. (Source: CDC)

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The state of Arkansas, according to the latest report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, is “on the precipice of a rapid, accelerating increase” of COVID-19 cases.

The Nov. 17 report obtained by ABC News states that Arkansas has seen an increase in new cases and an increase in test positivity. Currently, 81% of all counties have moderate or high levels of community transmission (yellow, orange, or red zones) with 55% having high levels of transmission (red zone).

In Northeast Arkansas, Craighead, Greene, Mississippi, Jackson, Crittenden, and Poinsett are all listed in the red zone.

Metro areas in the red zone include Jonesboro, Paragould, Blytheville, Batesville, Mountain Home, and Forrest City.

The state reported a 33% increase in new COVID-19 cases, adding 11,088 in the last week. The rate of 367 infections per 100,000 people exceeds the national rate of 294 per 100,000.

The rate of COVID-19 deaths 3.0 per 100,000 also outpaces the national rate of 2.3 per 100,000. In the past week, 92 Arkansans died.

According to the task force, “there is now aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties, without evidence of improvement but rather further deterioration.”

While it commends Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s measures to control the spread of the coronavirus which causes COVID-19, the task force is concerned “that the current situation is worsening and that there is a limited time window to limit further cases and avoid increases in hospitalizations and deaths.”

Once again, the task force recommends the state limit restaurant indoor capacity to less than 25% and limit bar hours in red zones until cases and test positivity decrease to the yellow zone.

It also encouraged Arkansas state leaders to conduct active testing in school for teachers and students where cases are increasing.

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