During his daily briefing today, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that Baptist Health System will be assisting the Arkansas Department of Health with testing.

Equipment to do so will arrive Oct. 1 and will be operational, able to conduct 1,000 tests per day, regarding COVID-19.

Hutchinson said the state purchased the machine and has been looking for a partner to man the equipment.

In March, ADH was able to process 20 tests per day. Currently, the department is processing 3,000 daily. This new addition will alleviate the burden of relying so much on commercial labs with the capacity of tests greater than what ADH can complete.

In terms of cases, Hutchinson reported 385 new cases from PCR tests, bringing the state's cumulative total to 66,406.

He added that 699 antigen test results also returned with 114 positive outcomes (15.4% positivity rate). 

While antigen tests and PCR results are recorded separately due to CDC guidelines, Hutchinson said to be transparent for the people of Arkansas, total cases would result in 499 in the last 24 hours.

Deaths rose by 12 to 928 while hospitalizations increased by two to 411. 

Secretary of Health Jose Ramero said seven of the deaths occurred in nursing homes with two small clusters in Beebe and El Dorado.

Citizens on ventilators fell by two for a total of 82.

PCR test results received back in the last 24 hours came in at 5,208.

In terms of recoveries, Romero reported that 660 Arkansans recovered in the last 24 hours, for a total of 59,920.

Top counties with at least 20 new cases are Washington with 42, Craighead with 21, Pulaski with 31, Benton with 24 and Jefferson with 23.

Saline County has had a total of 1,701 cases with 135 remaining active. More than 1,550 have recovered. Deaths have risen to 15 locally.

Regarding schools, it was reported that about 40 students at Pea Ridge have had to be quarantined, causing the school to alter plans with on-site instruction. Also, a number of kindergarten classrooms within the Harrison School District have been quarantined.

More information regarding the briefing will be published in Thursday's issue of The Saline Courier.

Hutchinson holds his briefings daily at 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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