COVID cases continue to grow in county, state

Cases of COVID-19 continue to grow across the state as Arkansas continued to break records in the number of cases and hospitalizations throughout the week last week. The number of new cases dropped dramatically Monday, July 6 and Tuesday, July 7. 
According to Governor Asa Hutchinson, the trend of dropping numbers were simply a case of a long weekend and not as many tests being run, preparing Arkansans for a rise in numbers later in the week as results catch up after the long weekend drag. 
Drew County continued to see numbers grow, with a cumulative total of 79 cases, as of press time, up 14 from the same time last week. Active cases have dropped by four, from 32 active at this time last week to the current active number of cases at 28. There was one additional death added to the total Wednesday, July 8, bringing the death toll for Drew County up to two. 
With questions rising concerning what steps should be taken when an employee or co-worker tests positive for COVID-19, Dr. Nate Smith stressed Thursday, July 9, that a negative test after close contact with someone positive for COVID-19 doesn’t necessarily mean the person will not go on to develop COVID-19 if tested too soon after exposure. During that time, he re-iterated recommendations released by the Arkansas Department of Health on May 22. The recommendation reads:
“ADH requires a person exposed to COVID-19 to complete a 14-day quarantine period, even though they may have a negative test result during the quarantine period. 
Quarantine of persons known to be exposed to someone with COVID-19 is a key strategy to stopping the spread of the illness. A person who is a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 must self-quarantine (remain home) for 14 days after the date of their last exposure to the positive case. Arkansas Department of Health staff will work closely with a contact to provide them with guidance and monitor their health. 
It is important to understand that a negative COVID-19 test for a person who is a contact does not change the requirement for them to complete the 14-day quarantine. The 14-day period allows for adequate time to monitor for the development of symptoms during the full incubation period of the virus. A negative test in an exposed person during this period may be a false negative, as the virus may have been present but not yet at detectable levels. Asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic persons have been shown to contribute to the transmission of COVID-19, so ending the 14-day quarantine early puts others at risk. 
Therefore, a negative COVID-19 test during a person’s 14-day quarantine does not provide an early or total release from quarantine. All persons must complete a full 14-day self-quarantine when they have been exposed to a known case. Please share widely with your staff, especially those who provide COVID-19 results to patients. 
Note on Exposed Critical Infrastructure Workers: Critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to coronavirus disease 2019, provided they remain asymptomatic, have not had a positive test result for COVID-19 and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community, including wearing a face covering, physical distancing, and daily screening for fever or symptoms. 
Please note that the exceptions made for critical infrastructure workers only apply to their work. They must remain in strict home quarantine for all time not spent at work.  
For more information about self-quarantine visit https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs- services/topics/covid-19-guidance-for-self-home-quarantine.”
Based on evidence supporting COVID-19 being spread through the transmission of aerosol droplets, which are produced during coughing, singing, speaking and even quiet breathing. Research also shows asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission is well documented and is thought to contribute significantly to spread, as well as showing wearing masks for the prevention of transmission of COVID-19 works. Based on these facts, and more, according to ADH, The WHO issued a statement on June 5, recommending that everyone wear fabric face masks in public to reduce the spread of the virus. Based on the supporting data, the ADH makes the following recommendations:
• The general public should wear face coverings in all indoor environments where they are exposed to non-household members and distancing of 6 feet or more cannot be assured. This includes, but is not limited to, workplaces (with few exceptions), retail stores, businesses, places of worship, courtrooms, jails and prisons, schools, healthcare facilities, other people’s homes and all the scenarios addressed by the Governor’s Directives. 
• The general public should also wear face coverings at all outdoor settings where they are exposed to non-household members, unless there is ample space (6 feet or more) to practice physical distancing. 
• Regarding the type of face covering, medical masks may be somewhat more protective than cloth masks (if they are clean and dry), but more and more evidence supports cloth masks as being sufficient for the general public and effective in preventing transmission. Cloth masks should consist of at least two layers of fabric. N95 respirators should be reserved for front-line health care workers. 
• All face coverings should cover both the mouth and nose at all times in order to be effective. 
As the virus continues to spread across the Country, states, regions and counties, Governor Asa Hutchinson and Dr. Nate Smith, Department of Health Secretary, continue to recommend ways to reduce the spread of the virus and urge Arkansas citizens to take responsibility for themselves and others by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask whenever social distancing is impossible and washing your hands frequently throughout the day.

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