The state reached record numbers Thursday with 2,789 additional COVID-19 cases reported in the past 24 hours. There were 33 COVID-19 deaths reported statewide in the 24-hour period.

During his COVID-19 briefings, Gov. Asa Hutchinson normally names off the counties with 20 cases or more, he simply said there were 32 counties with more than 20 cases.

Through FEMA, Hutchinson requested ten beds at the Veterans Administration hospital in Little Rock. The request frees up five intensive care beds and five medical surgical beds for thirty days. The cost to the state will be about $500,000.

Hutchinson said the move was done in preparation for challenges hospitals may be seeing in the next three weeks, in anticipation of a surge of hospitalizations related to COVID-19.

A reporter asked Hutchinson if he was afraid of the predicted surge in COVID-19 deaths.

“I’m not afraid, but I’m focused on doing what we need to do as a state to get ready,” Hutchinson said.

Additionally in the Thursday briefing, Hutchinson relayed updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which shortens quarantine guidelines for asymptomatic people who test positive for COVID-19. The state will broadly be adopting those policies. Hutchinson said the shorter timeframe may encourage more people to be honest when they are contacted by contact tracers.

Quarantine can end after ten days without a COVID-19 test, if the person reports no symptoms. Quarantine can end after seven days with a negative COVID-19 test, if the person reports no symptoms.

Since the start of the pandemic, the CDC has recommended anyone exposed to someone with COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days. This continues to be the best way to reduce the spread of the virus.

Per the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), defines “quarantine“ as separating and restricting “the movement of people who were exposed to a disease to see if they become sick. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease and not show symptoms.”

“Isolation“ is defined as separating “sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.” In the context of COVID-19 containment, the term “self-isolation” is typically used to describe an action that individuals who are confirmed positive, awaiting test results, or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should take to mitigate spreading infection.

Independence County, per the Arkansas Department of Health, now has 92 active confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 102 active probable cases of COVID-19. There have been 1,610 cases so far in the county with 1,457 recoveries, and 61 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, and 10 probable deaths linked to the virus.

ACHI’s COVID-19 tracking data for Wednesday, Dec. 2, showed Independence County is following the national and regional trend of increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases with a significant increase in the past two weeks. Currently the infection rate per 1,000 people in the county is 5.13, but this number is expected to rise.

The North Central region, of which Independence County is a part, has dropped to 5.73 infections per 1,000, lower than last week’s 6.31 score.

Arkansas has 138,597 active COVID-19 cases, 124,495 recovered COVID-19 cases, and 2,312 deaths linked to the virus. Updates may be found at healthy.arkansas.gov, ACHI.net/covid19 and the independent arkansascovid.com web sites.

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