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Coronavirus in Arkansas: Governor Hutchinson announces lifting restrictions on elective procedures



LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday that restrictions on elective procedures will be lifted effective April 27.

Governor Hutchinson said this decision was based on the number of hospitalizations and the limited spread that made the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) feel comfortable with easing the restrictions.

Dr. Nate Smith, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health, guidance from ADH will go out Wednesday or Thursday. Smith said this will be an incremental change. According to Dr. Smith, patients who go in to have an elective procedure are required to not have contact with a person infected with COVID-19 for 14 days, have no symptoms of the coronavirus, and be tested with their results back within 48 hours of the procedure. Smith said rural hospitals are excluded from the restrictions since they were also excluded when the original restrictions were put in place.

The governor also announced a timeline for future decisions leading to the target date for lifting some restrictions on May 4. State officials will make an announcement on their decision for restaurants on April 29. The decision on gyms will be on April 30. The decision on beauty and barbershops will be on May 1, and the decision on places on worships and larger venues will be announced May 4.

Governor Hutchinson also announced there are 2,276 cases as of Wednesday afternoon.

This was an increase of 49 cases. The governor said of the 49 cases, 13 were from the Cummins Unit.

Dr. Smith said as of Tuesday night at 10 p.m., 681 inmates at the Cummins Unit and 14 staff tested positive for the virus. Smith said there will be additional barracks and staff tested.

Dr. Smith said out of the total number of cases, 1,371 of them are active.

The number of deaths decreased by one, making the state’s total to 42. Dr. Smith said one death was someone who died in Arkansas, but was re-classified as a Missouri resident.

Ninety-seven people are in the hospital due to the coronavirus, according to state officials.

Twenty-three people are on a ventilators due to the coronavirus, which is a decrease of four, according to Dr. Smith.

Of the total cases, 262 are health care workers, with 148 of them recovered, according to Dr. Smith.

Dr. Smith said there were 35 new cases associated with nursing homes, bringing the total to 170 cases. Smith said 31 facilities are under active investigations.

State officials urged Arkansans to continue social distancing and wearing masks when out in public. The governor said we should still continue to be dilligent and do what we need to do to protect ourselves and others.

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