The number of known positive COVID-19 cases in Arkansas reached 24,253 on Monday, an increase of 439 since Sunday, according to Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
There were five new deaths, bringing the toll of Arkansans who have died from the illness to 292.
Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said 17,834 people are now categorized as having recovered, while 6,127 are considered active cases.
Hospitalizations are at a record high of 337 after increasing by 40 over the weekend and another 12 on Monday. The number of patients on a ventilator is up six to 81.
Smith said the virus has now infected people in all of the state’s 75 counties.
In the past 24 hours, Washington County has reported 77 new cases while Pulaski County reported 46. Benton and Yell counties each reported 36 new cases, and all other counties reported less than 20.
Hutchinson said a plan to add more contact tracers is underway, and that the state has hired General Dynamics for $20 million to begin adding 350 new contact tracers this week to add to the 320 people who current perform the task.
The governor said he’ll soon request another $20 million to hire another 350 contact tracers so that eventually the state will have about 1,000 people working to contact those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and identify who they might have exposed to the virus.
“This is a huge increase in our investment and capacity,” said Hutchinson, who added that it’s possible even more contact tracers will be needed in the fall. “We’ll continue to monitor that,” he said.
Stephanie Williams, a senior deputy with the Health Department, said one of the biggest issues facing contact tracers is dealing with people who don’t answer their phones on the first call. She said anyone who receives a call from 877-272-6819 should answer immediately because it’s the Health Department calling to discuss a potential contact with an infected person.
Hutchinson also announced a revised testing goal for July. The previous goal was to conduct 180,000 tests, but that amount was topped in June when the state reported 180,595 total tests. He said the new goal is to test 200,000 people this month. The current testing count for July is 30,646.
Slides shown on Monday
Cases by region