EDITOR'S NOTE: As a service to our readers, The Sentinel-Record publishes updates released each weekday by the city of Hot Springs and the state of Arkansas.
The following stats were shared Tuesday at Gov. Asa Hutchinson's daily COVID-19 news conference in Little Rock and posted on the Arkansas Department of Health's website:
• 40,181 cumulative cases, up 734 from Monday.
• 489,906 test reports, up 4,925 from Monday.
• 8.2% infection rate, up from 8.1% Monday.
• 6,565 active cases, down 118 from Monday.
• 33,188 recoveries, up 823 from Monday.
• 501 hospitalizations, up 13 from Monday.
• 428 deaths, up 20 from Monday.
• 110 cases on a ventilator, no change from Monday.
• 1,167 cumulative nursing home residents infected, up 31 from Monday.
• 713 cumulative infections in Garland County, up 18 from Monday.
• 12,491 test reports for Garland County, up 92 from Monday.
• 5.7% infection rate, up from 5.6% Monday.
• 482 recoveries, up 25 from Monday.
• Seven deaths in Garland County, up two from Monday.
The 18 new cases reported Tuesday in Garland County lowered its rolling seven-day average of new cases, but the two deaths reported Tuesday raised the death toll to seven.
Tuesday's 27.71 average was 3% lower than Saturday's peak of 28.57, and the 224 active cases reported Tuesday were 3.9% lower than Monday's peak of 233.
The 734 new cases reported statewide Tuesday pushed the state's rolling seven-day average to a new peak for a second-straight day. Tuesday's 789.43 average was slightly higher than Monday's 788.57.
Tuesday's net gain of 13 COVID-19 patients in hospitals set a new peak for hospitalizations, raising the number above 500 for the first time. The 20 deaths reported Tuesday were the most since the pandemic began. Dr. Jose Romero, acting Health Department secretary, said six occurred prior to the 24-hour period before Tuesday's briefing.
"These are not good numbers whenever we've gone over the 40,000 mark cumulative in terms of our total cases," Hutchinson said. "When we've gone over 500 in our current hospitalizations, these are both high water numbers for us. Of course, having an increase of 20 in our deaths is not good news."
Hutchinson said he sympathized with legislators who expressed concern about the statewide mask order that went into effect July 20, explaining that he's had to balance the need for executive action with protecting personal freedoms.
"I don't like it either, but we pull together and we work together to get over this," he said. "I'm used to having to make unpopular decisions, but it's necessary for public health."
Hutchinson said he's hopeful the order will soon have an effect on the curve of new infections, provided enough people abide by it. Fines of $100 to $500 can be levied for noncompliance.
"If everybody ignores the mandate, it's not going to make a difference," he said. "But if people actually wear the mask you should be able to start seeing some results."