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COVID-19 cases in Arkansas top 500, 64 people hospitalized

The Baxter Bulletin (Mountain Home, AR) logo The Baxter Bulletin (Mountain Home, AR) 3/31/2020 Scott Liles, Baxter Bulletin
a house that has a sign on the side of a building: A video screen outside the Clinton presidential library in Little Rock offers guidance about social distancing on Sunday. The states confirmed number of COVID-19 cases climbed to 523 as of midday Tuesday. © Andrew Demillo, AP A video screen outside the Clinton presidential library in Little Rock offers guidance about social distancing on Sunday. The states confirmed number of COVID-19 cases climbed to 523 as of midday Tuesday.

Arkansas' confirmed COVID-19 cases crossed the 500 mark Tuesday while Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he was considering closing some popular state parks.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state rose to 523 on Tuesday afternoon, an increase of 50 cases compared to the 473 reported at the same time Monday.

The number of Arkansans hospitalized with the virus climbed to 64 on Tuesday with 23 of those patients on ventilators, state officials said.

The Arkansas Department of Health reported Friday night that at least one Baxter County resident had been confirmed as having COVID-19.

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The county currently has between one and four confirmed cases, according to an interactive map that was updated Friday night on the ADH's website. The map color-codes counties as having no confirmed cases, having 1 to 4 cases, having 5 to 9 cases, having 10 to 19 cases and having 20 to 100 cases.

Of the five counties that border Baxter County, cases have been confirmed in Searcy and Stone counties while no cases have bee reported to date in Marion, Fulton or Izard counties. At least one case has also been reported in Boone County.

COVID-19 is the illness caused by the new coronavirus. For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with preexisting health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild cases recover in about two weeks, while others could take three to six weeks to get well.

The outbreak has shuttered schools, forced many to work from home and closed many businesses.

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Speaking at his midday news conference Tuesday, Hutchinson shared a chart that showed the state's confirmed cases compared against the state's projected number of infected. The model estimates that the state should have around 750 confirmed COVID-19 cases at the moment and should have crossed the 500 mark about two days ago.

"This shows that our preventative efforts are working," he said. "We need to stay below that (projected) mark."

He urged a continuation of the effort to keep a safe distance from others, wash hands and otherwise follow steps to avoid infection.

The governor did say he was worried about reports of a large influx of out-of-state visitors to the state's parks. Some of those visitors are coming from known coronavirus hot spots and should be self-quarantining themselves for 14 days, he said.

COVID-19: Area doctors say to stay calm, take coronavirus seriously

As a result, Hutchinson said the administration was looking at ways to curtail out-of-state visitors. That may include closing some popular state parks, he said.

"That's not reflective of our own population, it's a comment on the out-of-state travelers that are here," he said.

State Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith said the latest Arkansan to die from the virus was older than 65. That death was fifth in five days and was the state's eighth confirmed death due to the virus.

Of the state's 523 cases, 17 were children age 18 or under, 158 were adults age 65 or older and 348 were adults between the ages of 18 and 64. Smith said that 44 have diabetes, 39 have cardiac problems, 23 have chronic lung problems, 12 have chronic kidney programs and 16 have immuno-compromised conditions.

Thirty-five patients had improved enough to be considered clinically recovered from the virus, Smith said.

This article originally appeared on Baxter Bulletin: COVID-19 cases in Arkansas top 500, 64 people hospitalized

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