Two coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in Arkansas, according to the state’s chief medical officer.
Arkansas Department of Health Dr. Nathaniel Smith told reporters that two deaths have been confirmed today in central Arkansas. Arkansas Money & Politics has already reported on one of the deaths, an individual in his nineties at Conway Regional Medical Center. The second case was an individual in their fifties.
These mark the first deaths from coronavirus in Arkansas. However, there have been 606 deaths attributed to coronavirus throughout the United States and 18,246 deaths worldwide.
Smith also updated the total number of positive coronavirus cases in the state. There are currently 218 positives, a jump of 44 positives from the total reported in yesterday’s news conference. In addition, it is an increase from the ADH total of 202 reported this morning.
There are now 37 counties in Arkansas with positive cases of coronavirus. The two new counties include Pike and Hempstead. The other counties include Benton, Washington, Sebastian, Polk, Sevier, Boone, Searcy, Van Buren, Conway, Pope, Cleburne, Faulkner, Pulaski, Saline, Garland, Grant, Jefferson, Clark, Cleveland, Desha, Lincoln, Bradley, Union, Columbia, Woodruff, Independence, Lawrence, Greene, Craighead, Poinsett, Crittenden, Cross, Crawford, Stone and White.
Smith cautioned individuals on funeral service, noting that these gatherings would help spread the virus easily. “Funerals can be a time when COVID-19 can pass easily amongst family members, especially when there are older and vulnerable individuals at the funeral,” he said.
He also addressed workplaces, saying that there have been reports that employers have suggested that workers get tested before returning to their job sites. While Smith says requiring temperature taking and other symptom tests would be appropriate, full COVID-19 tests for otherwise unsymptomatic individuals would not be effective. “it would not be appropriate for a worker who has no symptoms to be screened for COVID-19 before coming to work,” Smith said.
In addition, he noted that there is increasing evidence that smoking is a risk factor for coronavirus.