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Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS | Get the local news and weather where you live from 5NEWS. Covering Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and all of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

COVID-19 testing Czar says Arkansas has 'turned a corner' in fight against the virus

Admiral Brett Giroir is a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — According to Admiral Brett P. Giroir, also known as the "COVID-19 testing Czar" and is a member of the White House Coronavirus Taskforce states in the Sunbelt, including Arkansas, started to see an outbreak of more coronavirus cases after Memorial Day.

“Red counties and there are a lot in Arkansas right now, now you’ve turned the corner a little bit so now you're decreasing, but counties that are red have increasing numbers of cases over a certain threshold and they also have a percent positivity over 10%," Giroir said.

Two weeks ago Governor Asa Hutchinson’s mask mandate went into effect.

“I would say one good thing about Arkansas that’s clear, you guys really started to edge up from percent positivity in the low single digits up to over 10% and some of your counties are even higher, but because of the measures who’ve just done we’re starting to see that decrease," he said.

Giroir says he and members of the task force are in constant communication with the governor and local health officials providing recommendations and guidance as the country continues to navigate our way through this pandemic.

Although, Girior is a big proponent of mask-wearing, he says a national mask mandate has not been recommended to the president by the task force.

“A federal mask mandate is not something we recommend," he said. "We certainly support governors or mayors by making a mandate because that’s a local decision that’s right for their population."

The COVID-19 testing Czar appears to remain positive about the future but says we can’t take our foot off the gas and people should continue to take this virus seriously.

Giroir says if we want to see Razorback football again soon or return to normal life we have to keep wearing a mask in public, practice social distancing and have good hand hygiene.