Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday said the state is “not backing off” of increased COVID-19 testing.
The governor said 7,049 tests had occurred in the past 24 hours, which pushed the state past its goal of conducting 120,000 tests in June with just over a week left to go. As of Monday, Hutchinson said the statewide testing total for the month was at 120,053.
The state set a goal of 60,000 tests in May and surpassed that by nearly 21,000 before doubling the goal in June. Hutchinson said he’ll soon announce a new testing goal for July.
President Donald Trump said at a weekend campaign rally in Tulsa that he’d asked his administration to reduce coronavirus testing because more testing leads to too many cases of COVID-19 being uncovered.
“When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases,” said Trump. “So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’”
White House officials later said that the president’s comments were made “in jest,” and Hutchinson on Monday called the remarks “flippant” while insisting that national policy is to continue to expand testing.
The number of known positive COVID-19 cases in Arkansas reached 16,083 on Monday, which is an increase of 522 since Sunday.
The three leading areas were Washington County with 124 new cases, Hot Spring County with 85 and Benton County with 78 additional positive tests since Sunday. Hutchinson said all other counties with positive tests reported less than 20 new cases.
Hospitalizations from the virus decreased by seven Monday to 237.
Hutchinson said the total hospital bed capacity in Arkansas is 8,917 and as of Monday, there are still 2,552 beds still available. He said the state has 970 ICU beds and that 222 of those are unoccupied. Ventilator capacity in Arkansas is at about 65%, he said, noting that there are 894 ventilators and that 311 are currently in use.
Deaths in the state increased by two on Monday, to 227, said Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith.
Of the 16,083 total known cases to date, Smith said 5,063 are considered active, meaning 10,793 patients are categorized as having recovered from the illness.
More graphs from Monday