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story.lead_photo.caption Nurses Julie Palmer (left) and Caitlin Percival prepare covid-19 test kits Friday at a drive-through testing site at the Mercy Convenient Care in Bentonville. Go to for today's photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Northwest Arkansas has seen a jump in covid-19 cases as more residents are being tested for the virus.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Friday afternoon during his daily news briefing the state had 154 new cases since Thursday.

"Washington County had the highest number of new cases with 32, and most of those 32 cases came from three households -- three households -- which shows you the quickness of spread in a household or community. Benton County had 22," Hutchinson said.

Seven cases were reported at Ozark Mountain Poultry in Rogers, which is owned by George's Inc., and four cases were reported at Cargill Meat plant in Springdale, Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith said during the briefing.

Cargill is enforcing a mandatory 14-day quarantine for employees who have tested positive for, or been exposed to, covid-19, as well as any employees who may have come into contact with any team member who has tested positive for the virus, according to an email from Daniel Sullivan, spokesman for Cargill.

The company is also providing face masks to employees, increasing distancing between employees and not allowing visitors, Sullivan wrote in an email.

A representative from George's wouldn't say whether employees who have tested positive are still working or provide a statement. The representative referred to the company's stated covid-19 response on its website. The website states George's is taking steps such as screening employees and requiring provided face masks.

Washington County had 213 cases as of 2:30 p.m. Friday, which means 82 people tested positive within the past week, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. Benton County had 212 cases Friday, which means 73 people tested positive within the past week. The overall test positivity rate was 6% for Washington County and 3% for Benton County.

Community Clinic, which has four coronavirus screening sites in Northwest Arkansas, collected specimens to be tested from 1,686 people from March 30 through Thursday, according to Abbie Luzius, community development manager. The clinics tested 574 people within the past week, compared to about 170 people the first week of May. Patients are encouraged but not required to call before coming to the clinic.

Northwest Health doesn't release how many people it tests for covid-19, but the percent of positives has gone up, Beth Wright, spokeswoman, said.

The positive rate for people tested at the hospital and drive-through testing clinic was 3.7% the week beginning May 1. The rate jumped to 8.5% the week beginning May 15.

Neither Washington Regional Medical System nor Mercy Health System would release their positive rates.

Washington Regional Medical System collected specimens to be tested from 3,051 people from March 16 through Thursday at its screening clinics and Fayetteville hospital, according to Cynthia Crowder, spokeswoman. Patients are encouraged but not required to call before going to the clinics.

Washington Regional received 14,656 calls to its coronavirus screening hotline from March 16 through Thursday, Crowder wrote in an email.

Mercy Health System collected specimens to be tested from 2,548 people from March 20 through Thursday, according to Jennifer Cook, spokeswoman. People who suspect they have covid-19 must call Mercy's call center and be screened and make an appointment before going to Mercy's evaluation site in Bentonville.

The Health Department has ramped up covid-19 testing efforts in Northwest Arkansas and will host a drive-through testing event Saturday in Springdale.

People who wish to be tested may come to a drive-through testing clinic noon-4 p.m. Saturday at The Jones Center on East Emma Avenue in downtown Springdale, said Richard Taffner, the Health Department's health district manager for Northwest Arkansas. Drivers should follow signs upon arrival. An appointment isn't necessary.

The department is wrapping up its first week of offering covid-19 tests at county health units, including the Washington County unit on Wimberly Drive in Fayetteville and the Benton County unit on West Walnut Street in Rogers.

The health unit in Rogers tested 41 people Monday through Thursday, Taffner said. The Fayetteville unit tested 46 people in the same time frame. The units saw more patients as the week went on, he said.

The units are testing anyone, regardless of symptoms, Taffner said. People who want to be tested should call the units to make an appointment during their regular hours.

The tests don't cost patients out-of-pocket, according to the Health Department.

Staff is collecting specimens via nasal swabs and sending them to the Arkansas Department of Health's lab to be tested. Most results are available within 48 hours, Taffner said.

Coronavirus screening sites

Washington County Health Unit: 3270 Wimberly Drive in Fayetteville. Patients should call (479) 521-8181 to make an appointment.

Benton County Health Unit: 1200 W. Walnut St. Suite 2200 in Rogers. Patients should call (479) 986-1300 to make an appointment.

Walmart/Quest testing site: 7-9 a.m. Thursdays and Fridays at Walmart Neighborhood Market, 1400 N. Walton Blvd. in Bentonville. Patients must schedule an appointment through Quest Diagnostic’s online portal, or MyQuest app.

UAMS digital screening:

UAMS hotline: (800) 632-4502

Washington Regional hotline: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, (479) 463-2055

Washington Regional Coronavirus Screening Center: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Washington Regional Urgent Care, 3 E. Appleby Road.

Washington Regional Family Clinic drive-through screening clinic: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday through Friday, 146 Passion Play Road, Suite A in Eureka Springs

Arkansas Children’s Hospital hotline for child health: (800) 743-3616

Community Clinic Siloam Springs Medical: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 500 S. Mount Olive St., No. 200 in Siloam Springs

Community Clinic Rogers Medical: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 1233 W. Poplar St. in Rogers

Community Clinic Fayetteville Medical: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 162 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Suite 13-14 in Fayetteville

Community Clinic Springdale Medical and Pediatrics: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 614 E. Emma Ave., Suite 300 in Springdale

Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas Family Medicine South: 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 2523 E. Huntsville Road in Fayetteville

Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas online screening:

Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas fever hotline: (479) 435-2500

MedExpress Urgent Care: 8 a.m.-8 p.m., 1160 S. 40th St. in Springdale. Patients must call (479) 750-2971 to make an appointment.

Northwest Medical Center: 601 S.W. Regional Airport Blvd. in Bentonville. Patients may call (479) 306-7507.

Northwest Medical Center: 2158 Butterfield Coach Road, Suite 100 in Springdale. Patients may call (479) 306-7507.

Mercy Coronavirus Evaluation Site: Mercy Convenient Care, 3101 S.E. 14th St. in Bentonville. Patients must call (479) 717-7585 beforehand to make an appointment to be screened.

Veterans enrolled in Veterans Affairs health care may call (800) 691-8387

NW News on 05/23/2020

Print Headline: Covid-19 cases jump in NWA


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