For several days leading up to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s Thursday COVID-19 briefing, the number of active cases in Arkansas had hovered around 6,500. This number was down from a peak of more than 7,000 active cases last week.


Thursday, there were 791 new cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas for a total of 41,559 positive cases since March. Sebastian County had 57 new cases Thursday, which was second only to Pulaski County with 73.


Hutchinson showed a graph depicting the overall positivity rate for the state and it stood just below the 10% threshold recommended by the Center for Disease Control. Despite CDC’s recommendation that the positivity rate should be closer to 5% in order to reopen schools, Hutchinson emphatically stated, "we are starting school the week of Aug. 24."


Hutchinson also stated that there would be an announcement on contact sports for the fall during Friday’s press briefing.


President and CEO of Arkansas Center for Health Improvement Dr. Joe Thompson announced their database would now show the number of active cases in any city with more than 10 total. Previously, the database only showed the number of positive tests.


According to the database, Fort Smith has 348 active cases, Van Buren has 71 and Greenwood has 23.


There were four fewer hospitalizations Thursday for a total of 504, with the number of patients on a ventilator down to 101.


The governor stated he approved 14 additional National Guardsmen to help with case management in addition to the 28 already helping hospitals in northwest and central Arkansas.


Acting Arkansas Health Secretary Jose Romero shared that the state would no longer require hospitals to test patients before elective surgery, but would leave that decision up to the physician and institution administering the test.


Romero suggested that it would still be a good idea to test incoming patients, but left it to the discretion of the physician.