JONESBORO — Craighead County was once again near the top of the list for new coronavirus cases Monday, with 24 new infections, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced.
The 969 cumulative cases in Craighead County represents a 31.9 percent increase in infections in the past seven days, when the county had 739 cases. Barely 15 percent of the county’s population has been tested.
Through Monday, 6 percent of the 15,962 county residents who had been tested were confirmed to have COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. The statewide positive rate was 8 percent.
Statewide, there were 824 new cases, for a total of 39,447. The death toll rose to 408 statewide, with seven new deaths, including one each in Clay, Craighead and Mississippi counties.
Hospitalized COVID-19 patients total 489, up 9 since Sunday. Of those 101 were on ventilators.
Hutchinson has said the statewide infection rate needs to be brought below 5 percent.
Only Greene and Jackson counties were below that goal on Sunday, at 4 percent and 3 percent respectively. Clay, Poinsett and Randolph counties were at 5 percent, while the infection rate was 13 percent in Crittenden, 9 percent in Mississippi, 7 percent in Lawrence and Cross counties and 6 percent in Sharp County.
Public schools are scheduled to return to classroom instruction the week of Aug. 24. However, Hutchinson announced Monday he is releasing $10 million in federal funds to provide better internet access for students in rural areas. The money will provide an estimated 20,000 additional Wi-Fi access points across the state.
“And it will also provide 24 months of data, and all of this will be free of cost to the families and to the students,” Hutchinson said.
Individual school districts will select vendors for the access points.
Sally Bennett, superintendent of the Rivercrest School District in Mississippi County, called the governor’s decision a game changer. While the goal is to provide on-site instruction, all districts are making back up plans involving online learning, Bennett said.
“Internet in our homes has truly been a struggle that we faced and I, like many other superintendents in the rural parts of the state, have tried to be creative and look at different ways that we could address the situation. The digital divide is real and it is deep.”
Monday Northeast Arkansas COVID-19 cases by county:
Craighead – 969 confirmed (up 24 from Sunday), with 203 still active, 757 recovered, 14,933 negative tests, 9 deaths.
Lawrence – 158 confirmed (up 1), 23 active, 126 recovered, 2,041 negative, 9 deaths.
Greene – 230 confirmed (up 2), 56 active, 173 recovered, 5,561 negative, 0 deaths.
Poinsett – 125 confirmed (up 6), 34 active, 88 recovered, 2,298 negative, 3 deaths.
Randolph – 1,042 confirmed (up 5), 41 active, 99 recovered, 2,494 negative, 2 deaths.
Clay – 103 confirmed, 13 active, 86 recovered, 12,082, 4 deaths.
Jackson – 54 confirmed (up 2), 9 active, 44 recovered, 1,664 negative, 0 deaths.
Mississippi – 553 (up 14) confirmed, 130 active, 415 recovered, 5,446 negative, 8 deaths.
Cross – 151 confirmed (up 1), 40 active, 110 recovered, 1,925 negative, 1 death.
Sharp – 92 confirmed (unchanged), 15 active, 72 recovered, 1,444 negative, 5 deaths.
Crittenden – 1,100 confirmed (up 10), 117 active, 967 recovered, 7,426 negative, 16 deaths.
St. Francis – 1,079 confirmed (up 12), 125 active, 951 recovered, 5,772 negative, 3 deaths.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.