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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 )

The total number of confirmed and probable cases of covid-19 in Arkansas surpassed 70,000 on Sunday as 12 additional deaths brought the confirmed death toll to 976, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

Active confirmed and probable cases in the state ticked up to 6,171, according to the Department of Health, an increase of 56 from the previous day.

The 508 new confirmed cases reported Sunday represented a decline compared with Saturday's count of 727 confirmed and probable cases and Friday's single-day record of 1,107.

The number of confirmed and probable infections since the start of the pandemic was 70,219 in the state as of Sunday.

[Interactive Arkansas map not showing up above? Click here to see it: arkansasonline.com/arvirus]

Describing the latest number as better, "but still too high," Gov. Asa Hutchinson sounded encouraged by the number of polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests reported Saturday.

"We continue to see increased PCR testing numbers & this allows us to better determine where new cases are coming from," Hutchinson wrote on Twitter on Sunday. "Mask up, keep your distance, and enjoy the rest of your weekend."

[CORONAVIRUS: Click here for our complete coverage » arkansasonline.com/coronavirus]

Results from 7,524 PCR tests were logged Saturday, according to the Department of Health. Four additional positive antigen tests were logged between Saturday and Sunday, according to the department's online dashboard, for a total of 1,526 positive antigen tests since the start of the outbreak.

All but one of the new confirmed cases reported Sunday were from PCR tests. The Department of Health added one case to its count of so-called probable cases, for a total of 1,169 probable cases.

Five previously reported deaths listed as probable pushed the Department of Health's total number of confirmed and probable deaths to 981, including the 12 deaths reported Sunday.

The number of negative antigen tests -- a less-sensitive test that can lead to an individual's inclusion in the Department of Health's count of probable cases -- jumped by nearly 2,000 between Saturday and Sunday, from 4,773 to 6,662.

Department of Health spokeswoman Danyelle McNeill did not immediately respond when asked about the change to the testing data.

Although the overall positivity rate of PCR tests remained stable between Saturday and Sunday at 8.4%, the positivity rate of the state's antigen tests fell from 24.2% to 18.6%.

Correctional facilities accounted for 18 of the new cases reported Sunday, while 490 were in the community.

The Department of Health reported that 63,063 people had recovered from covid-19 as of Sunday, an increase of 441.

Of the 6,171 active cases reported Sunday, 5,827 were confirmed (an increase of 72 from the previous day) and 344 were probable (a decrease of 16).

The number of hospitalizations and patients on a ventilator both fell Sunday. The Department of Health reported a decrease of eight in the number of hospitalized patients, for a total of 373, and a decrease of three in the number of patients on a ventilator, for a total of 80.

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CASES BY COUNTY

Pulaski County reported a cumulative total of 8,067 confirmed and probable infections, up 57 from the previous day. Active cases in the county rose by 12, from 660 to 672 including both confirmed and probable cases. Deaths in the county were reported at 121, with all but one confirmed.

Cumulative confirmed and probable cases in Benton County rose by 17 to 5,849. Confirmed and probable active cases in the county fell by 15, from 312 to 297.

Washington County's confirmed and probable case count was reportedly 8,212 as of Sunday, an increase of 18. The county's confirmed and probable active cases fell by 58, from 885 to 827.

Craighead County added 23 cases for a cumulative confirmed and probable total of 2,360. The Department of Health reported that 374 confirmed and probable cases in the county remained active, down seven from the day before.

Cumulative confirmed and probable cases were up by 12 in Sebastian County for a total of 3,175. Confirmed and probable active cases in the county decreased by nine, to 213.

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