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Saturday COVID-19 update: Traditional graduations scheduled to begin July 1

At Saturday’s statewide update on the coronavirus, Johnny Key, secretary of education, said high schools can tentatively target the first of July as the date to begin holding traditional graduation ceremonies. Of course, officials said that date could change if Arkansas sees a rise of COVID-19 cases before then.

If this date is too late for some districts, Key invited them to submit proposals for “non-traditional” ceremonies that still must adhere to social distancing and other similar guidelines.

Also at this afternoon’s update, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state is seeing a good response from the public to the two-day surge campaign for testing if one has symptoms. Officials should see results from the testing campaign in the next few days.

The governor also announced there will be no COVID-19 briefing on Sunday.

Other news from Saturday’s briefing:

  • There are 2,830 individuals who have tested positive as of Saturday. That’s 84 more since Friday, but 46 individuals from the number are inmates at the Cummins Prison Barracks Unit. The unit now has a total of 826 inmates testing positive along with 33 staff members. Hutchinson said the majority of the inmates testing positive have no symptoms, though three inmates have been hospitalized. There are still around 200 remaining tests pending from Cummins.
  • There have been three more deaths in the state, bringing the total to 49.
  • One hundred and four are currently hospitalized — no change since Friday. Secretary Dr. Nate Smith of the Arkansas Department of Health noted that University of Washington projections from earlier this month showed there would be 2,000 hospitalizations in the state on this date.
  • There are 22 patients on a ventilator, down three from Friday.
  • There are 194 nursing home patients who have tested positive along with 109 staff members. Over 30 nursing homes are being investigated by the state for the coronavirus.
  • And 970 patients have recovered. That’s 38 new recoveries since Friday.


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