The number of known COVID-19 cases in Arkansas reached 12,917 on Monday as the state entered the second phase of a reopening plan.
The case count increased by 416 from Sunday to Monday, and there were three new deaths, bringing the statewide toll to 182, said Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Of those new cases, 26 are from inside Arkansas correctional facilities.
As of Monday, 206 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, which is an increase of five from Sunday. Officials said 45 patients are now on a ventilator. The active case count is at 4,383, meaning 8,352 patients are categorized as having recovered from the illness.
Northwest Arkansas continues to lead the state in new cases, including 126 in Washington County. Benton County reported 53 new cases, a majority of which came from just seven households, said Hutchinson. Pope County reported 25 new cases, and Sevier County reported 20. All other counties reported fewer than 20 new positive cases since Sunday.
The governor said the state posted a new overnight record for testing, with 7,063 tests conducted in the last 24 hours. He said testing for the month is now at 68,069, which puts the state on pace to reach its goal of conducting 120,000 tests in June.
Dr. Jose Romero filled in for Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith, and said Arkansas has now reported 1,458 positive cases among workers in the poultry industry. He said there are currently 629 active cases among poultry workers, and that 829 are now categorized as having recovered.
Arkansas is now officially in Phase 2 of a plan to lift more restrictions placed on non-essential businesses.
The governor had previously said it was possible that restrictions could be further lifted at different times, depending on the region. However, he announced last week that the entire state will move into Phase 2 as a whole.
For the most part, Phase 2 allows more customers in restricted businesses. For example, restaurants can move from 33% to 66% of their building capacity.
Hutchinson on Monday announced three new executive orders addressing workers compensation coverage, medical immunity, and business liability issues.
The orders assure workers compensation coverage for employees with COVID-19 that have a causal connection between the illness and their job. The also provide immunity from lawsuits for businesses and healthcare providers whose customers or workers become infected with COVID-19.
The orders are effective immediately and will extend through the duration of the governor’s emergency order that was set to expire in mid-June, but was extended for an additional 45 days.