200916_COVID-19 Press Briefing - Batesville
1:59PM Sep 17, 2020
Andy Davis - ADG
Governor Asa Hutchinson
Mike McNeil - MagnoliaReporter.com
Allison Wise - 40/29 News
Mayor Rick Elumbaugh - Batesville
Governor is making his way down. I just want to welcome everyone here. And thank you for coming. And again, I like to thank Governor Hutchinson for his leadership. And so with that, I'm going to turn it over to Governor Hutchinson. Thank you, sir.
Thank you. Mayor Elumbaugh is great to be in the city of Batesville, and Independence County for today's covid 19 update. I am delighted to be wearing the mask of Independence county 200th anniversary. So that's exciting. And Dr. Romero has the same mass just in a different color. It is good to be here today. And I know that some say well, you said you're only going to have a weekly update and yesterday we had our Tuesday weekly update in Little Rock so why am I in Batesville today? The answer is that I committed to this some time ago and I wanted to be able to have this special day here in Independence county to hear from the leaders. And we will be sticking with our plan to have a weekly update, but I really enjoy being out of the community, and particularly the conversation that we had today in Batesville with the leadership. We heard from many of the different schools and the superintendent talked about the commitment of teachers and and how they are so dedicated to making sure this school year is successful. We heard from the mayor and county judge that talked about the resilience of the economy and how the businesses are innovating and being successful. We heard from future fuels. That is a great Batesville company that wants to get back into their history of pharmaceutical supply chain production that will help us to bring foreign sources of pharmaceuticals back to the United States. And so all of this has been very important in our discussions today. I did want to recognize the Attorney General, Leslie Rutledge for her being with us in that meeting. She's from this area. And I'm glad that she was able to join us. I want to make a couple of comments First, there was released yesterday, I believe it was the latest ua Ms. modeling for where we're going and COVID-19. And much of the modeling is short term projections as to where we're going to be a week from now two weeks from now, but it's also some long term projections. And to put it in perspective, I looked at their June night, June 19 model which said That we would be having 18,000 new cases per day in the future. And we're not having that. And so, it really, if you put it back in perspective, it shows some of the success that we've had. But on the other side, they really give us a wake up call as to the seriousness of this COVID-19 because their latest projection is that we could have an increase of 980 new deaths attributed to COVID-19 here in Arkansas, and whenever they make a projection like that, I think about lives last. I think about the seriousness of this disease and how we need to avoid the spread of the infections. They did recognize and express concern that we could have an expansion of cases simply because we're reopening schools and universities. Well, the That's a challenge to us to make sure we do it safely so that we don't add to the spread and new cases. And I applaud our education partners that have been doing this. The UAE Ms. Malian also acknowledged a decrease of the positivity rate in Arkansas, which is a good sign. And so I appreciate the modeling. We pick out what we can from there, learn from it, but it certainly encouraged us to do more in the future. Also, the White House released their most recent taskforce state report. And while we still remain in the red, in terms of the cases per capita that is coming out of Arkansas, new cases per capita, they noted that our new cases are declining and that our positivity rate remains in the yellow. And so both of those just reminds us that we've made progress, but we have more work to do and The challenge the battle, the fight is not yet finished. And that brings me to the case report, we had over the last 24 hours an additional 606 new cases of covid 19. That brings the total to 70,731 cumulative. In terms of the cases, hospitalizations declined by two, which continues to be a bright spot in the report, which is really the fundamental objective is to flatten the curve. So there's adequate hospital space to meet the needs of COVID patients. That is down to two 387. We've had seven additional deaths that brings us to 1010. Our testing was very strong with 6360 PCR test, and we had 529 antigen tests, of which 95 are positive 435 or negative
I noted that here in Independence County, Dr. Romero pointed out that we have done 27 antigen tests through the local health unit here in Independence county that resulted in six positives and 21 negatives. And as we go through the graphs today, I think you'll see that the antigen testing will continue to grow and be an option for our communities because it is quick, you have immediate results, and it will encourage people to have that quick response testing and it will be more readily available. With that. Let's go through the graphs which helps us to see the same statistics but it puts it in historic proportions, to know where we've been, where we're headed and what the trend lines are. And here is the number of new COVID cases in Arkansas, which goes all the way back to the beginning. The white are those that are The correctional facilities and the red are the community spread cases and you can see that the correctional facilities have largely got it much more under control where that's not growing. Most of what we have is the red which are community cases. The next one, you'll see the trendline which again shows the trend line most recently as up because we've had that spike last Friday of over 1000 cases. If we can keep it down, we're going to see that trend line reverse itself. Next you will see the currently hospitalized which is still puts us in good position. We're flat or lowering a little bit and we want to keep continue to watch that to make sure we have good hospitals capacity, the number of new COVID cases in Arkansas by test type and I show this because It illustrates what I just said. The red are the PCR test and the white are the antigen test. And you can see that the number of people that are utilizing the antigen test has been growing some. And this is really the train that I expect to see in the future. And then, if you'll continue on, let's look down at our state by regions. And this is just to remind you of how our state is broken down in public health regions. And of course, we are in Independence County. We're in the Northeast region right in almost the heart of it. Go the next one, and we will see the seven day rolling average of new COVID cases in that Northeast region. And you can see from that, that is a little bit of an uptick, which reflects the statewide trend and let me catch up here Then the next one, you're going to see the number and growth rate of COVID cases in the different regions of the state. And this is an important reminder for northeast Arkansas. If you look at the region that has the highest growth rate, it is the Northeast region. It is at 7.6% growth rate between September 6 and September 12, which is four days ago. And that is the highest in terms of growth rate in terms of raw numbers. It is second obviously Northwest with higher than has 1030 cases, but it's a smaller percent. The next you can see this growth rate just in a bar graph form. The same thing but you see how the Northeast is a higher growth rate. Next, you'll see this is the buy county in the Northeast region and that probably is little bit hard to see. But we highlighted independence County, which is the 6.8%, which is a good dropping growth rate for independence County, I think you're doing a very good job here. But in terms of the region, you can see some spikes. That tall one is Jackson County Newport, which there are some correctional facilities there in Newport. That could be a reason for some of that. But you also see cross county at a higher percent rate as well go to the next one. And you can see the same thing. This is by age group. And I always like to point this out to remind people that you've got the 18 to 24 year old is the highest bar graph there. And growth rate in terms of age groups is that 18 to 24. The next one, of course, is The 65 plus. The next one, you go ahead to the next slide.
And here's the seven day rolling average of positive PCR test. And here again, we have continued to make progress is recognized by the White House report as well as the UI Ms. modeling, and that is consistently below the 10% getting closer to the 8% level. And then that completes that. So with that, Dr. Romero, I invite you for your comments.
Thank you, Governor. Thank you all. So I will add a little bit more detail to the numbers. At this time, we have 5572 active cases in the state in addition To the decrease in the number of hospitalizations, I'm pleased to note that for the third four state day in a row, we've had a decrease in the use of ventilators by now by three so we're down to 65. We have added 730 individuals to the rolls of the recovered and now at 64,145 individuals have recovered from COVID. With regard to PCR testing, as mentioned, it was a very strong day. The public health lab performed 2444 tests, commercial labs were 3544 and UAE ms contributed 372. Our overall positivity rate since the start of the epidemic pandemic has been 8.3%. I'll close by giving the counties for which we have cases over 20 and so we start with Washington County at 65 followed by Pulaski County at 50 Eight Benton at 3731 cases in Faulkner. Jefferson 21 Miller 21 sorry, Jefferson 29 Miller 21. And Craig had 20. And I'll end here and turn it back over to the governor. Thank you.
I'll conclude for you take questions that I'm delighted to be on the campus of the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville. What a wonderful host What a wonderful facility and what incredible job they're doing and educating students and fighting through in and adapting to COVID-19. And Eddie, I want to welcome you to the campus as well. With that, we'd be happy to take any questions.
Okay. I was wondering, how are our colleges and poultry processing facilities here in Batesville, and independence county doing compared to the other industries in the other regions?
Thank you for the question. And she didn't hear it. The question was how's our the poultry facilities here in Independence county doing in comparison with poultry facilities across the state? And I think the answer is that if you look at the number of cases that are active here in Independence County, I think you're doing well. And that's a reflection of the challenges that have been faced in previous months in the poultry industry. So I think they've responded well, they've put a high priority on safety of the workers. And I think that's reflected by the fact that there's reduced growth of cases here in Independence County, Dr. Romero, did you have anything else to add?
Thank you. And if users any questions remotely, you can just work it in. We're glad to take those as well.
This is Andy Davis with the democratic visa. And I was just wondering if there are any new probable cases or probable
in terms of probable cases, we had antigen testing of 529 434 of those were negative and 95. were positive. And so those 95 would be probable cases. In terms of the deaths, I don't have that. So I make you'll just have to look on the website as that's reported later today.
Oh, go? Hi.
Yes, go ahead.
I thought I heard somebody about to ask a question, but maybe I was mistaken.
If there's not any other questions that I hear, or did we have a break? Jeremy, are we good?
Governor, Allison Wise with 4029.
I have a question. If you could expand a little bit more on your thoughts on the report from ua ms with the COVID-19 modeling, as we are heading into the winter months, and Paul, a lot of people are predicting there could be spikes in places as more people are having to be indoors and things like that, and also spike in flu cases. So looking at that, and looking at what this modeling is predicting. How do you think that our Kansans can really work to will prevent that fight from happening?
That's a very good question. And I have reviewed the report and there's always, you know, some things that you can glean from that type of modeling report. If you look, in the next two weeks, the modeling is primarily just a reflection of what they see is the current growth rate. And so that's really not hard to see. And that should be fairly close. Obviously, you try to beat it. But the big news and I think the, the modeling report this last time was that they increase the number of cases that they anticipate over the course of the winter, and that they attributed that to what they see as a logical outcome of the fact that we are engaging in education. We're having our colleges come back on campus, our K through 12 on campus, and so that kind of activity, they're assuming We'll increase the number of cases. And that's a somewhat of a logical assumption. But, you know, the question is, well, how do you avoid that? And that's the challenge that we all have from that. And the answer is, and I'm so proud of our schools because I think they're meeting that challenge. They the students have embraced the necessity of wearing a mask and social distancing where they can, and even on the football field and, and even outside of the campus activity. And so if they embrace that, and we don't contribute to the spread through those activities, then we're going to beat those kind of projections, then, you know, the good news is that we have adequate hospital space, but we don't want people to get ill. We don't want to have that increase in cases. And so that should drive us all to remember how important the fundamental principles of individual responsibility are. in reducing that spread of covid 19. Dr. Romero, did you have anything add?
So the model is predictive and and because it's predictive, it's not absolute. And I think that what the governor has said is true, we have a chance, an opportunity to change that number, we can drive it downward. And we can begin by driving it downward today, through the masks, through the washing of our hands and through social distancing. If we don't drive it down, starting now, we'll have to play catch up. The the requirements for masking social distancing in the schools are they're designed to limit the spread of any cases that occurred not only within the school, but transmission outside of the school. So all of the the guidance that has been issued for massive social distancing, will impact on that final prediction, and it's not an absolute at this point.
Governor, Mike McNeil at MagnoliaReporter.com. What will have to happen in your mind what numbers or percentages Do you want to see? For the green light to be given to ease restrictions on festivals and other special events?
That Mike, that is a very, very good question. And let me come at it a different direction that we just had a festival which was the Chuck Wagon races up in Clinton, Arkansas. And they conducted that festival because they submitted a plan and work with the Department of Health to assure proper controls to work on distancing and wearing a mask and how they were going to protect the spread, prevent their spread during that particular event. And whenever you look at Magnolia Know that you have some incredible festivals there. And you've got to submit a plan, if you want to proceed with that with the Department of Health, and they've got to review that, they'll help you develop that. And they will see if it's doable. And so, you know, I encourage if a community wants to have a festival, if they believe it's consistent with that the citizens will follow the public health guidelines and wear a mask and socially distance and the vendors will do that. And that you can have that kind of control then let's submit a plan the Department of Health to look at, you know, in terms of just lifting restrictions as a whole. We'll evaluate that, you know, week by week, but whenever we're having 600 new cases today, whenever we're trying to get a good start to school and and college activities. You know, let's let's, let's have the cautionary note. And let's take the more conservative route in terms of, of not lifting those jurisdiction restrictions until we get those new cases down more. Next question.
Good afternoon, Governor. It's Neal Gladner, hotsprings. Can you hear me okay?
Neal, I can heal you...hear you great. And we missed you the other day.
Thank you. I was on vacation. Governor with the with the exception of that 1100 spike last Friday, it seems that anywhere from four to 700 seems to be our average per day. Is that really in your mind the new normal that we just have to deal with for a while until we get a vaccine?
I hope not. And I think you've analyzed it right. That is been a fairly consistent pattern other than that one spike and it levels out. But encouraging thing is that it shows that it's not out of control. The cause of is out of control, you'd be going upward on a regular basis. But it is settling at too high of a number. And so I would still like to see that number reduced. That's too high of a number to settle on. You know, we could survive through it, we can manage through it, but it just is too many cases. And we can do better than that. And I think it can be reduced, and that would ultimately save lives.
Dr. Romero, did you have anything else there? Is there any other question?
Allison, again, one more question. This one for Dr. Romero. And I have a question about contact tracing. How many people are actually responding to contact being when they're contacted by a contact tracer to give their you know, information. I think previously the number was hovering around 4% has that increased at all?
every round 4%.
So I'm gonna ask you to give me that number again, that you're saying that we were only able to contact 4% of the individuals or 4%. We're not giving us the information.
Oh, no, sorry. Also, previously, the health department had said that there was about 4% of patients that had been to a restaurant, excuse me a restaurant recently. And out of that 4%. I'm wondering if you're looking at that number, how many are able to answer the questions from contact tracers that you get? So I get from a group of people who have been contacted out of that, how many do respond to a contact tracer.
So we're able to contact the majority of individuals, that 4% represents the information we obtained from the individuals that we were able to speak with. So We know that those individuals have given us that information, the number of individuals that were not able to reach I think I can't give you that number right now. It would be speculation we can provide that number to you. Did I answer your question?
Yes. And in general, what has been the response after our contact tracers, particularly in our minority communities as well or Spanish speaking communities? Is that gotten better at all?
Yes, it has. And rather than me speculate on the numbers, we have that available for you. If you would contact us, we can give you exact numbers rather than me guess at it.
And let's take the last question was do we have a question here with our host, uh.... uh, media.
Next, this is Independence County's Bicentennial and next year will be the city's Bicentennial. And I was wondering if you had any words of unity you'd like to share with our community? Well,
Thank you for that question. And the answer is what a historic city in Arkansas, Batesville, 200 years on the White River. And you think about the challenges that this community has been through there in the course of that 200 years, from disease, to tornadoes, to economic depressions, and the community is always pulled together, has survived, has not gone away, but it has strengthened itself. And that's what it is doing now. And I expect that will be the pattern for the future that reflects the resilience, the determination, the almost frontier spirit of the people of this area that makes me very proud of Arkansas, and this community.
Thank you. It's great to be here today. Thank you.