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Posted on: May 21, 2020

Governor Hutchinson 5/21/2020 Press Conference- Large Case Number Increase, Team Sports Directive

Governor Hutchinson Press Conference Update graphic

Governor Hutchinson COVID-19 Press Conference 5/21/2020 

  • 5,003 cases yesterday, today increase of 455, for a total of 5,458 cases 

  • 1,433 are active cases 

  • 3,915 recovered, an increase of 63 

  • 455 new cases- 229 are from correctional facilities, 226 community cases 

  • Reflection of increased testing- spread out through many parts on the state (27 new cases in Benton County) Definitely a concern, but it needs to be put in context and perspective. We will be using active contact tracing to determine risk factors and determine if there are outbreaks and community spread. 

  • Largest single day increase since reporting began 

  •  Of the active cases: 543 are correction, 94 nursing homes, 796 are community cases 

  • 86 hospitalized 

  • 110 deaths, up 3 

  • Tested 2,616 in the last 24 hours, keeps us on target to do 60k tests 

  • 4.4% positivity rate 

  • 7 day rolling average- going up. Yes, this is a concern, but also a reflection of increased testing 

  • There has been a huge decrease in blood donations, this poses a large challenge to those who need blood for medical procedures. If you are a regular donor, please go donate now. If not, please consider donating.  

Continue to check the Arkansas Department of Health website for updated case numbers per county:   

Overnight summer camps – very complicated, please refer specifically to the directiveWill be completed and up on the website by the end of the day.  

Looking at apps to help with data tracking and contact tracing and continue to “beef up” this section of the ADH.  


Cases in children: 

  • Fortunately, children are less likely to get severe complications, but there are some complications that can occur among children.  

  • Dr. Jose Romero- UAMS and Children’s Hospital Chief of Children’s Infectious Diseases, Chair of CDC on Immunization Practices.  

  • Multi organ inflammatory syndrome- severe inflammatory disease that follows the infection- as of now we have not had any cases in Arkansas.  

  • Approximately 200 cases of the multi system inflammatory syndrome reported so far across the country. There is treatment for this. This mimics the kawasaki disease and treatment is similar. 


Team Sports Directive- Effective June 1 

Applies to team sports for K-12, not for intercollegiate sports 

Will revisit close-contact sports June 30 

  • Ticket sales online if possible 

  • Team practice, competition prohibited for closed contact sports like basketball, wrestling, football, volleyball, soccer, martial arts 

  • Individual practice with own equipment permitted 

  • Conditioning/training OK with limited group size, distancing 

  • Cheerleading and dance may practice under gym directive restrictions 

  • Practice, competition allowed for limited-contact team sports like baseball, softball, track, gymnastics, swimming 

  • Physical distancing whenever possible 

  • Use own equipment/disinfect any that is shared 

  • Participation discouraged if 65+ or have health issues 

  • Physical distancing except during active sports activity 

  • Athletes, coaches, staff asked about fever, symptoms, exposure 

  • Face coverings for everyone 10 or older 

  • Athletes can remove during active sports activity 

  • Coaches, staff must wear at all times 

  • Showers prohibited; locker rooms only used for storage 

  • Frequent sanitizing of equipment, facilities 

  • Avoid huddles, high fives, any other non-sport related contact 

  • Directive for gyms applies to training facilities 

  • Directive for venues, dining applies to athletic event facilities 

If athletes are training in a gym- they need to follow the directive of gyms 

If outside certainly the number can be quite a bit more 

Spectators will follow for large outdoor venues. 


Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: 

  • Website is now secured and is operational.  

  • As of noon today, 15,000 claimants have been emailed to say they can go online to enter weekly claim 

  • Thousands of claims were processed and claimants will receive monetary assistance shortly.  


Steuart Walton- Chairman, Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force:  

  • Proud of businesses for taking precautions and serving our residents in novel and new ways 

  • Arkansas Ready for Business website- please look to for guidelines. Check this site regularly for updates.  


  • Overnight Summer Camps- Effective May 31 directive will be on the website at the end of the day 

  • Schools- the CDC gives a lot of things to consider. Will talk to secretary Key, we have plans to open and we look to incorporate as many guidelines as possible. 


People refusing to wear face masks in dine in restaurants-  

Governor Hutchinson’s response:  

[sic] Patrons need to understand that they need to wear masks until they are served. These businesses are doing what they need to do to protect their own health as well as the patrons. Whenever somebody comes in without wearing a mask, it’s not then about your health,  as much it is about everybody else health around, and so it’s a very selfish act to say we’re not going to abide by those guidelines that are meant to protect you and others. So I hope that there’s a lot of patience, but primarily it’s your decision, if you don’t want to go in there and dine that’s OK, that’s you’re decision, but don’t blame it on the owner of the restaurant or the waitstaff there 

Steuart Walton response:  

[sic] It’s something that you do for other people, it’s not something you do for yourself, and when you start to think about it in that light, it maybe brings a little more emotion to it.  The virus is real and it’s really important that we continue to reduce cases and case numbers in the state because as people see these numbers grow, confidence is going to go the opposite direction and wearing a mask or face covering is just imperative in places where it’s impossible to socially distance and a restaurant happens to be one of those , I would encourage restaurant owners to be brave and request folks who come in to wear a mask, and as a patron of a restaurant show up with a mask 

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