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0000017d-2122-dd26-adfd-e56710ac0000IMPORTANT RESOURCESArkansas Department of Health's COVID-19 Update PageADH Coronavirus Hotline: 1-800-803-7847 (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. M-F) After normal business hours, urgent calls needing immediate response call 501-661-2136Gov. Asa Hutchinson's statewide mask mandate goes into effect July 20

Arkansas Department of Health Plans to Increase Contract Tracers

June 5, 2020 2:51 p.m. —  Today during his daily press brefing, Governor Asa Hutchinson reported 226 new coronavirus cases, uping the toal number of positive tests to 8,651. Hospitalizations rose by 10 to 147 today with one additional death from the virus in Arkansas. The governonr also announced that  3,846 tests have been administered since yesterday with a 3.1 % positive rate. Helth Secretary Nate Smith said the majority of new cases came from northwest Arkansas.

Hutchinson gave an update on the contract tracing results from the 190 cases identified on June 1. He said the department of health was able to reach 140 of those who tested positive and from there determine 222 other individuals that the department said were possibly exposed to the virus. Of those cases 52 % are latino and 39 of the individuals identified are employed by a poultry company. 

Jennifer Dillaha, ADH Medical Director for Immunizations, joined the briefing today to explain the contact tracing process. She said 240 staff with help from the University of Arkansas for Meical Scieneces systematically interview people who test positive to find and notify those who may have been exposed to the virus. She said at-risk contact includes being within 6 feet of another person for longer than 15 minutes. 

Secretary Smith said next week the department of health will train up to 100 volunteers to assist with contract tracing. He also said the department sent out a request for qualifications today to hire 350 more contract tracers within the next two months. 

The Governor will not hold a COVID-19 briefing over the weekend. 

You can watch the entire briefing here.

Daniel Caruth is KUAF's Morning Edition host and reporter for Ozarks at Large.