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story.lead_photo.caption This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). (CDC via AP, file photo)

EDITOR'S NOTE: As a service to our readers, The Sentinel-Record will publish daily updates released each weekday by the city of Hot Springs and the state of Arkansas.

The following stats were shared Friday at Gov. Asa Hutchinson's daily COVID-19 news conference in Little Rock and posted on the Arkansas Department of Health's website:

• 4,463 new cases confirmed statewide, up 97 from Thursday.

• 81,529 test results, up 3,024 from Thursday.

• 5.5% rate of infection, down from 5.6% Thursday.

• 975 active cases, up 47 from Thursday.

• 3,390 recoveries, up 50 from Thursday.

• 98 deaths, no change from Thursday.

• 65 cases requiring hospitalization, down four from Thursday.

• Nine cases on a ventilator, down one from Thursday.

• 127 cases in Garland County, up one from Thursday.

• 3,238 test results from Garland County, up 51 from Thursday.

• 3.9% rate of infection, down from 4% Thursday.

• 116 recoveries in Garland County, up one from Thursday.

• 10 active cases in Garland County, no change from Thursday.

• One death in Garland County, no change from Thursday.

The Health Department said all of its local health units will offer COVID-19 testing beginning Monday. Tests will be offered to anyone with or without symptoms who lives in an area experiencing active transmission.

There will be no out of pocket costs for the tests, but insurance may be billed for patients who have it. An appointment is required. The Garland County Health Unit is at 1425 Malvern Ave., next to the library.

"We especially want people to come in if they have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or believe they've been exposed to someone with COVID-19," Dr. Nate Smith, Health Department secretary, said. "But if they've been in an area where there's active transmission of COVID-19, even if they have no symptoms, we'd like them to come get tested.

"They won't be turned away as long as we have resources and are not overwhelmed with individuals on one particular day."

Expanding testing to the local units is the newest component of the state's goal to conduct 60,000 tests in May. Hutchinson said 29,389 tests have been done since the first of the month.

The 97 new cases reported Friday raised the seven day rolling average of total new cases and community cases. The latter excludes cases from correctional settings. They rose for a fifth-straight day. Friday's moving average reached 68.5, a 46.4% increase since Sunday.

The average of total cases rose for a second-straight day, climbing to 107.4. Friday was the last day the 173 cases reported May 9 in the federal prison in Forrest City will be included in the moving seven-day average.

One new case was reported Friday in Garland County, but its rolling seven-day average was above one for a second-straight day on the strength of the five cases reported Thursday. The average hadn't been above one since April 21.

Retail wasn't a sector affected by the series of Health Department directives that closed other parts of the economy, such as restaurants and personal care services, but Hutchinson said all retail establishments will be open Monday. The initial phase of relaxing restrictions on businesses and social gatherings began May 4. The restrictions will be eased further when the second phase takes effect.

"Everybody sees the national media and you see what's happening in other states about pressure to open up," he said. "I just want to emphasize we are open for business in Arkansas. We didn't shut down."

Arkansas is one of about a half-dozen states that didn't impose a stay-at-home order.

Hutchinson said an announcement on bars will be made Monday. They weren't included in the directive that allowed restaurants to resume dine-in service at 33% of their capacities May 11.

Smith said the requirement that patients undergoing elective surgery be tested within 48 hours of their procedure will be extended to 72 hours beginning Monday.

"We understand for some facilities that's been a challenge," he said. "We still highly recommend it be done within 48 hours, but starting Monday we'll allow that to go out to 72 hours when 48 hours is not feasible."

Local on 05/16/2020

Print Headline: COVID-19 update: Health units to start offering tests

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