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Arkansas still limited on testing supplies during coronavirus outbreak

The Governor and health officials say the state still doesn't have the proper amount and it is still difficult to get testing equipment.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

 It has been two and a half weeks since the first presumptive case of COVID-19 appeared in Arkansas.

The governor and health officials say the state still doesn't have the proper amount and it is still difficult to get testing equipment for what they need, with more cases to come.  

“At this time we are not able to test everyone we would like to test,” said Secretary Nate Smith 

Arkansas confirmed cases currently sit at 421 and the number of deaths is at 5.

The counties most affected are in Central Arkansas, but this past week, an increase to 29 positive cases in Benton County has put them as the third most affected county alongside Faulkner.

The governor says the state's testing is still performing well, but they would like to see an increase in capacity. 

“We’re still getting testing results but it is not the significant increase of testing that we wish,” said Governor Hutchinson 

 Hutchinson says the problem is with the supplies that support the testing processors. They do not have enough and Secretary Nate Smith says this causes delays in the results.

“Sometimes it’s taking a week or longer to get those results back,” said Secretary Nate Smith.

Yesterday, the Governor said he ordered more ventilators to support at-risk patients. Today, the state said they expect a shipment to arrive this week with tens of thousands more N95 masks, face shields, surgical gowns, and gloves. 

Governor Asa Hutchinson says he spoke to the CDC director and to private companies about the challenge of getting more necessary equipment. 

“I’m pushing and pushing every envelope I can from the federal government assistance to the private sector to accelerate that supply chain for our state and for our citizens,” said Governor Hutchinson. 

 The lack of testing capabilities continues to limit the qualifications for testing. 

Secretary Smith says the priority is still health care workers, patients who are hospitalized or in nursing homes, people 65 or older with symptoms and those with chronic underlying conditions.

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