HSC named top county for new COVID-19 cases

Staff Writer

During Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s press briefing Friday, he announced that Hot Spring County is a top county for new cases over the past 24 hours.

An additional 145 cases were reported in the county with “most, if not all” being located at the Ouachita River Correctional Unit, according to Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith.

Cases were originally reported June 20 at the unit. The number of new cases at ORCU eventually slowed, but has spiked again.

Smith noted during the conference that when COVID-19 cases were first reported at the facility, all of the inmates and staff were tested. At that point, many of those tested received negative results. After having symptoms later, individuals were retested and received positive results.

“There were individuals who were exposed (to COVID-19) who actually were infected, but they initially tested negative because it was too early in their infection to have a positive result,” Smith said. “We knew that was likely.”

According to Cindy Murphy, spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Corrections, 679 people at the unit have tested positive for COVID-19 and 367 have recovered.