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story.lead_photo.caption This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes covid-19. ( NIAID-RML via AP )

Arkansas reported 508 new covid-19 cases on Sunday, as the death toll in the state increased by five to 264, according to the Arkansas Department of Health's portal tracking the outbreak.

The total of covid-19 infections in the state since the start of the pandemic reached 19,818 on Sunday. The total number of active cases, a count of the individuals who have neither recovered nor died of covid-19, was up 137 from the day before, for a total of 5,918, according to the Department of Health.

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The number of new cases reported on Sunday represented a dip when compared with several days last week, when Arkansas recorded increases of nearly 700 new covid-19 cases. The lion's share of those cases were reported in the community, as opposed to correctional facilities.

On Friday, the Department of Health reported a single-day record high of 669 new cases in the community.

As the number of active cases in the state creeps toward 6,000 and the cumulative total nears 20,000, the rising figures illustrate Arkansas' struggle to contain the coronavirus at a time when many states in the southern U.S., such as Texas and Florida, are also experiencing increasing numbers of cases reported on a daily basis.

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Appearing on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson was asked to respond to action on Wednesday by officials in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, who moved to require visitors from eight states, including Arkansas, to isolate themselves for two weeks amid high covid-19 test positivity rates in those states.

Hutchinson told host George Stephanopoulos, "We're just going to do better to get our cases down in Arkansas."

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"But ultimately," he said, "we can't be putting these restrictions on each other across the country because we do have to do two things: both manage the virus and manage the growth of our economy."

He said states like New York do not want to isolate themselves "from every region in commerce that might have a spike in cases."

When asked about economic reopenings that have been paused in other states, Hutchinson suggested Arkansas' reopening is effectively paused because officials have not announced a move from Phase 2 of a reopening plan to Phase 3.

"But we are continuing to move our economy, and that's important to be able to go into the future," Hutchinson said, "both handling the virus and living life, and that's what we're trying to do."

The governor also called for doubling the volume of testing nationwide, citing high demand for tests in populous states such as Texas and California. He suggested that officials use the Defense Production Act to ensure an adequate supply.


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