8:12PM Oct 13, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson
Dr. Jennifer Dillaha
It is great to be on the campus of the University of Arkansas at hope and Texarkana. I want to thank them for the new facemask that I can add to my collection but also to us. And I want to express my appreciation to Laura Clark, the Interim Chancellor here at the university for being such a great host, as is our custom as we come out into the community. We have a meeting of our city officials but also our educators met with about three superintendents of schools as well as the hospital administrators had a great discussion as to the impact of covid in southwest Arkansas, not just in terms of the cases, but also in terms of the economy. I want to express my appreciation to representative Danny Watson, the center, Bruce Malick, Representative David fielding, for joining and hosting us and joining in the conversation and want to thank Mayor Steve Montgomery for his hospitality today. This week, this week is the seventh anniversary of the pandemic, based upon the march 11, emergency order that I issued, and the seven month and a vis the seventh month anniversary of the pandemic, it seems to me to be symbolic that we are remembering this anniversary in hope Arkansas place called hope. And so hopefully, that today's meeting and discussions will be helpful for the future. I assure you that we've all been encouraged by the leadership of this community. And that way they're pulling together to do the right thing to fight cobit and to stop the spread of the virus. The current emergency expires. And I am announcing today that I will be signing an executive order to extend the emergency for another 60 days. Why am I doing this? Well, I'm doing this because COVID-19 continues to be a global pandemic that's costing lives and globally you actually see the cases rising. But you also see here in the united states that the deaths and hospitalizations continue that we have emergencies declared in all 50 states. And so the emergency continues in Arkansas as well. With a number of cases, with the deaths and hospitalization we have I think every healthcare worker particularly would understand the necessity of this emergency. The executive order that I'm signing today allows students to continue to have the option for virtual learning. And that exactly voters necessary for that. It provides small business relief through liability immunity, telemedicine with Medicaid reimbursements. And it allows e signatures and remote corporate meetings, as well as other things that are necessary during the management of this pandemic. And for life to go on. And so I'm signing that executive order today that will be entered on the Secretary of State's the governor's website as well.
I wanted to mention hospitalizations that in the conversation today and southwest Arkansas, there's adequate hospital space, they manage it well. And I'm encouraged by that. And I know that our hospitals with their level of coordination gives us ample space, even though it is still at a the largest number that we've had, since this pain pandemic began going to our case report. In terms of PCR cases, we have an additional 481 confirmed cases in the last 24 hours. We have an additional 199 probable cases in the last 24 hours. That gives us 680 cases that we're adding to our total in terms of hospitalizations, that is good news that we have a minus three. We've reduced our hospitalizations by three. That gives us 605 still higher than what we had before at our high a couple months ago of 520. In terms of desk regrettably we have 24 additional deaths that brings us to 1462 deaths as a result of COVID-19 In terms of testing, we had 5909 PCR test, that's a cumulative positive rate of 7.6%. In terms of our antigen testing, it continues to be very strong 1472. And these very well could have been antigen tests that were given a couple days ago, but sometimes are faxed. And it takes us a while to process those. So those are the ones that are added to the list today. If we go to our slides, we have those ready, we like to just be able to see it in graphic form. This is the number of new COVID cases by test type. And so we have the in the orange or the yellow, we have the PCR test. And then we have the wide which reflects the antigen test. The next slide, you'll see the seven day rolling average average of new cases in Arkansas. And you've got to remember that we started adding in our probable cases. And so, you know, that gives us a broader understanding of cases, both the confirmed and the probable, you can see where that trend line is, it speaks for itself, we want the trend line to go down. Next, you'll see the number of active cases. And we're not at our peak in terms of active cases, which means people are recovering from COVID-19. And the more we can get that active cases down, that will ease the burden on our hospitals. And then this shows the hospitalizations. And that's where we had it before 520. And now you can see us at the 600 level, we want that to be able to go down. But our hospital capacity can handle more, but we don't want to put the pressure on the system.
this will take us to testing by facility type. And you can see the Why is the Department of Health lab and I've mentioned that we want to control our destiny in terms of testing. And you can see the reliability of our department of health labs producing every day they work 24 seven around the clock, in assessing these do an incredible job getting a quicker response as they can. And then, you know, what varies a lot is the is the commercial lab testing, which is in the orange a key part of what we do, but it is it varies more. And then if you go to the next one. This is the percent positive of PCR test by date of result from June to the present. And you can see that our positivity rate remains well below 10%. It continues to go down, little up and down. But it is consistently less than what the CDC guidelines are. And the more we test, then the more we're going to be able to control the spread of that virus by by isolation and by quarantining. This is the growth rate of cases in Arkansas. And we divided as we do who get out in the regions. This is divided by public health regions. And you can see the Northeast now is the highest growth in cases at 7.9% growth from October four to October 10. This is important information. And then in the next highest is southeast at 6.0. And then Central, and then the Southwest where I am today at 5.1% growth. If you look at the next one, you'll see the growth rate by age group we like to see this every week. And you can see the growth rate in the in these 65 and plus followed by 45 to 64. The zero to 17 which is our high school students 5.0 growth rate. Our college age has been reduced, which is good news. And it's reflected in the active cases among our two and four year institutions has actually declined. But those that's a breakdown by age group.
And this is
by counties in the southwest region. We're in Hempstead county and it gives us an idea as to where we are Hempstead County. Our host is in the yellow so it sort of distinguishes itself. And you can see hotsprings County at 9.4% growth rate. And then you have Colombia And Hempstead county tied at 8.6% growth rate. And that's a caution to this that even though Hempstead county has done very well in controlling the virus, that we know that in the rural counties in Arkansas, we are seeing an increase in the number of cases. And some of the urban centers are really getting a handle on it, the more rural areas are being challenged. And then let's go on to the 14 day moving average. And I know this is too busy for you to see it. But you're going to be able to see this on our Department of Health website. And what you need to note is that the highest level of positivity is in the red. And in the red, you can see many rural counties around the state that has a high level of positivity, which is 13 to 18%. And then if you look at the lighter colors, those are the lower percent positivity. And you can see the progress being made up in Benton County 6.9% placer, county 5.1%, saline county 6.1%. So you can see the shifting dynamics in the state. And it really is a lesson that if you're in the rural parts of the state, sometimes you think Well, we're not going to be touched by it. But as someone mentioned today, people move in and out. They will work outside the county, they'll come back or they'll go visit somebody and they'll come back and so you have to be careful and mindful and socially distance to protect yourself. And then that concludes those slides. with that. I want to turn it over to Dr. delahaye. For to cover a few items. And I've asked Peggy Abbott, the CEO of the washer, washer talk County Medical Center to make some comments about testing that I think are very relevant today. Dr. delahaye.
Thank you, Governor. So today I would like to talk a little bit about the hospitalizations as the governor mentioned we have 604 individuals who are hospitalized with COVID-19 right now in Arkansas 110 of those persons are on ventilators that six more than yesterday. And this is a worrisome direction for us because we want the numbers to go down. We've had 1462 people die. And we had an increase of 24 deaths since yesterday. Five of them were in nursing homes. And I think that points out the great vulnerability of our older population in Arkansas and we must do everything we can to protect them. The top counties in Arkansas that had more than 20 cases were poleski with 56 cases. Benton County with 444 Craig county with 32 lonna County with 24 and garland county with 22. I'd like to applaud him stand county because so far they've had just 474 total cases. And right now there's 59 active cases, only five deaths. And currently as the hospital reported today, there are no persons admitted to the hospital. And that is what we would like to see all around the state. So I would like to take this opportunity to urge everyone this year to get a flu shot. We know that last year there were 125 people who died of influenza during the flu season. We had one new flu deaths just reported at the end of the flu season which ended at toward the end of September. That person had both influenza and COVID-19. We know that either one can increase the risk of death that older adults and people with chronic health conditions or more vulnerable for both flu and influenza, I mean flu and COVID-19 to have severe disease. So for that reason, I urge all our Kansans to get a flu shot this year. It takes about two weeks for the flu shot to provide protective immunity. So I encourage you to get it now so that you will be protected by the end of the month. We know that influenza can cause a lot of hospitalizations, and this shot can do a lot to keep people out of the hospital. And that is exactly what we need to do right now. keep people out of the hospital in Arkansas while we have this COVID-19 pandemic that continues on. It will be with us for a while it will be with us through the winter, and we need to prepare and get our flu shots now.
Thank you, Dr. delahaye are testing in Arkansas for this month is poised to set a new record for COVID-19 testing that we've ever had since this pandemic began. And the testing is what a key part of our strategy to know where the COVID-19 virus is isolated, quarantine it to stop that spread. One of the highlights is what's happens in some of our communities. And I'm delighted that Peggy Abbott co wrote me a letter indicating what they did to meet that challenge in Camden. And I wanted her to talk about it for a moment.
Thank you, Governor. As many of you know, rural hospitals, our safety net hospitals for the community were the only facility they have to go to. You also have heard the emphasis on testing. And we embraced that at Washington Medical Center, we actually started testing in March. But that would be a screen test, we realized the urgency to know where the pockets of COVID were. So about seven weeks ago, we opened a bonafide test site that is located in the urgent care clinic that we operate right on the fringes of our hospital that is located there in Camden, we have it open five days a week, Monday through Friday, during regular business hours, a half day, Saturday morning and half days on Sunday afternoon. In the seven weeks that we have made available test. Now this is not that you come in we screen you, we do the screening. But if you want to test, you get a test, we have tested in that small community 616 individuals of those 60 have tested positive, which helped us know that our positivity rate among our testing is 9.7%. It also helped us know where pockets are that we needed to emphasize more education perhaps and more attention. And based on those numbers, we continue telling our community where the mask, this is our greatest safety net against COVID-19 follow all of the precautions you've been given. But we were very proud to share with the governor because of his emphasis and the Department of Health of the importance of testing that that little community in Camden stepped forward and made available to our community and anybody who wants to come that they can be tested. And I'll close by saying that drove home with me because a physician friend of mine, who's of retirement age and beyond shared with me that with many young physicians, he would say, Listen to the patient. Often, if you listen closely to the patient, he or she gives you their diagnosis. And we knew that sometimes someone would come to be screened and they had a gut feeling. No they hadn't been exposed, they had no reason to think that they may have been exposed. They just had a gut feeling. And some of those 60 individuals in fact, many of them have been a symptomatic individuals who simply felt the need to be tested. So we're very grateful governor and Dr. delahaye, to be on the front line with you and providing testing to a very small rural community in southwest Arkansas.
Thank you, Peggy. Great story and great leadership. And I want to since she mentioned the mask and by saying I want to applaud the businesses that comply with public health guidelines, our ABC inspectors, inspected 118 restaurants or facilities under their jurisdiction. And they found really a 94 excuse me 96% compliance rate, they had 3.39% violation rate that is very low. And of course they dealt with those. But I want to encourage the public that we can't cover everything from a Department of Health and an inspection. And that's not what you want us happy to do to go into every business and to check them out. We don't have the capacity for it. So I want to encourage the public to shop and spend money with businesses that are safe. And that's something that we all can do. That way we increase compliance. We encourage those businesses that are really at sometimes a sacrifice to their own business, following the guidelines and understanding of the public health benefit from that. With that, we're happy to take any questions.
Governor, I spoke with Dr. delahaye. On Friday about the rate of hospitalizations, she mentioned that if she didn't see a decline in this upcoming week, that she would advise you and Dr. Romero would be advising you of steps to take what is she advised you? And what steps are you looking at taking the public health team gave me some options to look at as to additional steps that we can take as needed. And I have some of those are public messaging steps that we can take some of our action items. And so that's one of the things that I was emphasizing today, it is the enforcement, which we taken steps to increase our enforcement of public health guidelines. Secondly, it is the encouraging of businesses that are doing the right thing because ultimately, when you want to reduce cases, you want to increase compliance with social distancing with the public health guidelines. And so that's one of the steps that we're taking. We are pleased that we had a reduction hospitalizations today. But it wouldn't surprise me if it goes up tomorrow. And so it's something that you don't measure over a short period of time or longer period of time. And if additional action needs to be taken, we can do that. I will add that there's not really an option to go back on our opening of businesses that were way past that in Europe, in the United States, here in Arkansas seven months, we the ultimate solution is to follow those guidelines to make sure that we're doing what we can through individual responsibility, wearing a mask washing your hands, social distancing, avoiding large crowds, unless the protections are in place. That is the solution. We ask everybody to do their
follow ups or
your attorney general as Rutledge was a social media photographs in the last couple of days on campaign trail. A lot of them don't have people in these groups don't have masks on in these pictures. So is she undermining you in any way in terms of getting that public message?
I'll let her address the specifics of that. But it is important for us as public leaders to do two things. One is to follow the guidelines and set a good example. And then secondly, it's helpful whenever we you know, have a public facing posture that we demonstrate that we're setting a good example. And I know the Attorney General. I've seen her I've been with her she wears a mask, but it is helpful to make sure that that example is public as well. With that, are there any questions? I think we're we've got the questions covered today. Is there anything else? with that? I want to thank the great hospitality here and hope and look forward to coming back again. Thank you