Virus cases in state reach 118; peak expected in 6-8 weeks, governor says

Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks at a news conference on Saturday afternoon.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks at a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The number of confirmed positive covid-19 cases in Arkansas rose to 118 Saturday, and Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during a news conference that he expects the spread of the virus in the state to peak in six to eight weeks.

Hutchinson said at the conference at the Arkansas Department of Health on Saturday that after consulting with experts, state officials predict that at the virus' peak, there will be about 1,000 Arkansans hospitalized with covid-19.

"That means you have many, many more that are sick and simply at home and many, many more that are being tested," Hutchinson said.

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Of the 118 cases, nine are children, 32 are senior citizens and 77 are adults ages 19 to 64, said Nate Smith, the state Health Department director.

Thirteen people are hospitalized, seven have needed to be in intensive care and four required ventilators, according to Smith.

A confirmed case in Fort Smith is Sebastian County’s first reported instance of the illness, according to a news release by city officials. It was the only new county included in the cases described on Saturday.

Smith said the state is “taking steps” to ensure health care workers have adequate personal protective equipment.

“Protect yourselves but don’t be wasteful,” he said.

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The state has also established a hotline for medical professionals who have questions about treating covid-19 patients: (884) 930-3023.

Hutchinson recommended that Arkansans avoid unnecessary travel and avoid large social gatherings in order to stop the spread of the virus.

“I hope we are wrong,” he said. “I hope that the peak is not as high, I hope that the trend is not as long.”

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