Deaths from COVID-19 in Arkansas surpass 200; cases near 14K

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas reported an additional 11 deaths from the coronavirus Thursday, bringing the death toll to 208.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said that with 322 more cases reported, the state’s total number of cases increased to 13,928.

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

Hutchinson said it came as a surprise that the the Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Wednesday added Arkansas to its travel quarantine list. Kansas health officials are asking individuals who travel to Arkansas to quarantine for 14 days.

“That’s just I think an aberration from what the other states are doing in handling this,” Hutchinson said.

Meanwhile, Fayetteville City Council in northwest Arkansas this week approved an ordinance requiring face masks at most public places indoors and the mayor of Little Rock says he’s planning a similar measure.

Hutchinson, a Republican, has encouraged residents to wear face masks but has said he doesn’t see a need for it to be mandated statewide.

He said Thursday said he had no plans to challenge cities on the issue, but said “everybody needs to understand that if a city rule is more restrictive than a state rule, then it’s preempted by the state rule.”

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, the state epidemiologist, also spoke at the Thursday news conference, encouraging Arkansans to continue taking precautions, including wearing face masks.

“If a majority of Arkansans were to wear their cloth face-coverings when they are out in public we could greatly reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in Arkansas,” Dillaha said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.

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Check out more of the AP’s coronavirus coverage at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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