Alternative care sites added in COVID-19 response

In this screenshot of Tuesday’s news conference, Troy Wells, president and chief executive officer at Baptist Health, talks about additional hospital beds being established in the state.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday that two facilities will be constructed to provide more than 100 additional hospital beds if needed in the state’s fight against COVID-19.

Hutchinson said the 1,103 hospitalizations in the state reported Tuesday was the largest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic began.

Hutchinson also said alternative care sites, if needed, will provide 124 new hospital beds at a cost of $7.4 million, and that it is hoped FEMA will cover 80 percent of the cost.

Troy Wells, president and chief executive officer at Baptist Health, said Tuesday that 50 beds will be in the medical center’s J.A. Gilbreath Conference Center in Little Rock, and will take about a month to build. Another 74 beds are to be added at a facility in Van Buren that may take six to eight weeks to complete.

The state has had a total of 205,048 COVID-19 cases and 3,338 deaths.

In Jackson County, confirmed and probable cases have totaled 2,698, and there were 435 active cases in the county as of Tuesday, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

There have been 14 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Jackson County and three probable deaths due to the virus.

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