Arkansas Reports Second-Highest Jump in Coronavirus Cases

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LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas reported its second-highest increase in confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday as a state senator was hospitalized after testing positive for the virus.

The Department of Health said at least 36,259 people have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, an increase of 1,013 confirmed cases since Wednesday. The department said 7,009 of those cases are active, meaning they don’t include people who have died or recovered.

All but five of the new cases came from non-incarcerated people, marking the state’s biggest one-day jump in cases among people outside the prison system.

“I’m frustrated by it,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters. Hutchinson, however, said part of the increase came from a lag in recording case results over the past two days.

The true number of cases in Arkansas is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. 

Six more people in the state died from COVID-19, bringing the state’s total fatalities to 386. The number of people hospitalized rose by six to 480.

Sen. Jason Rapert said in a statement provided by the Senate that he was in the hospital after being diagnosed with pneumonia and testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. Rapert was responding well to treatment.

“We have all been doing our best to wear a mask, social distance and be careful like everyone else,” Rapert said in the statement. “This virus is serious and can attack anyone regardless of age or general health.” 

Rapert, 48, is a Republican who has served in the Senate since 2011 and last year announced he was seeking the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor in 2022. Rapert had been organizing a meeting planned next month in Florida for a group he founded, the National Association of Christian Lawmakers.

Rapert is the fourth Arkansas legislator to test positive for the virus since the pandemic began. Three state House members tested positive for the virus earlier this year.

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