Governor announces 3 additional presumptive positive coronavirus cases in Arkansas, state total presumptive cases now 9

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Friday there are three additional presumptive positive cases in Arkansas. That brings the total of presumptive positive cases in the state to nine.

According to the governor, two of the three new presumptive positive cases are a couple and the other is of unknown origin. The governor said the case of unknown origin is of concern.

Dr. Nathaniel Smith, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health, echoed that statement, and there wasn’t any linkage and suggestion of transmission within the Little Rock community.

Dr. Smith said there is no evidence of community transmission outside Little Rock.

Officials say two of the presumed positive cases were tested as outpatients and one was tested as an inpatient. Two of them are being treated as outpatients while the third is in the hospital.

The governor agreed with Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr.’s recommendation to cancel or postpone any event of more than 200 people, and expanded it to a four-county area. That four-county area is Pulaski, Jefferson, Saline and Grant counties.

Hutchinson ordered 10 new lab positions to be filled immediately to help process tests. The governor also said that Dr. Smith had also requested 20 people to man the phones for calls about the virus, so the governor has requested that people already trained move over to help.

The Arkansas Department of Health has activated a call center to answer questions from health care providers and the public about the novel coronavirus. During normal business hours (8:00am – 4:30pm), urgent and non-urgent calls, please call 1-800-803-7847. After normal business hours, urgent calls needing immediate response, please call 501-661-2136.

Governor Asa Hutchinson said he will amend his emergency order to expand telehealth. This would also expand to mental health professionals.

Dr. Greg Bledsoe, Arkansas’s Surgeon General, said 20 tests are done a day.

Officials say 70 people have been tested as of Friday morning.

Officials say ADH is limited in their testing however I want them to know they can order those tests from commercial labs

Dr. Smith says the test is a swab in the back of the nose, and medical professionals involved in the testing are required to have protective equipment, which is gowns, gloves, N95 masks and eye protection.

The governor urged people who may have symptoms to call their physicians and not just show up in the emergency room.

The first presumptive positive case was discovered Tuesday and announced Wednesday.

Hutchinson also said, “Don’t worry about the cost of the test.”

The governor said the test would be covered by insurance or waived from deductibility.

At this time, officials are not advising other schools to be closed unless there is a confirmed case in the area.

Officials say the CDC provided some clarity on school closings and encourages school officials to read the guidance. To read the guidance, click here. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-schools.html)

Education Commissioner Johnny Key said, “Schools are the safest place for the most part in the state.”

Key explained one of the weeks of the current school closure for Pulaski, Jefferson, Saline and Grant County schools is due to spring break.

Key also said the school closures will be re-evaluated.

Key also said his department wants to keep schools in session, but they need to be ready to keep plans in place for the most vulnerable students.

The Education Commissioner says his department extended the number of AMI days from five to 10 to districts who have submitted AMI plans. Districts who have not have until May 1 to do so.

Key also said the standardized testing window could be adjusted if needed, but there might be a delay and getting test results back.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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