JONESBORO — Gov. Asa Hutchinson attracted national attention over the weekend when he described a swimming party in Northeast Arkansas that produced a cluster of new cases of coronavirus.
Hutchinson told reporters Saturday he learned of the cases in a text from an acquaintance.
“A high school swim party that I’m sure everybody thought was harmless. They’re young, they’re swimming, they’re just having activity and positive cases resulted from that,” Hutchinson said.
The governor declined to provide further details on the swim party but noted the incident was “just an encouragement for us to be disciplined in our activities.”
Hutchinson did not say how many people attended the party or subsequently tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. During Tuesday’s briefing, reporters tried to get more information.
The governor clarified the incident occurred in Paragould, not Jonesboro, as some had speculated. He still wouldn’t provide much more details.
“Because there are some privacy concerns there,” Hutchinson said. “I had information of it from a friend whose wife is in the hospital and was understanding of the tests that were done and it was related to me. But there are privacy concerns there and I don’t want to get into any more specifics other than the fact that there was a swim party that resulted in positive cases and I’m sure nobody expected that when they started.”
Hutchinson said “irresponsible behavior” such as large gatherings in which people ignored social distancing guidelines threatens the state’s progress toward further opening the economy.
For example, the state is in Phase 1, in which restaurants are allowed to serve dine-in customers at only one-third capacity. Phase 2 would allow those establishments to go to two-thirds capacity.
Tuesday Northeast Arkansas COVID-19 cases by county:
Craighead – 190 confirmed, with 50 still active, 140 recovered, 4,158 negative tests.
Lawrence – 82 confirmed, 15 active, 62 recovered, 628 negative, 5 deaths.
Greene – 50 confirmed, 24 active, 1,628.
Poinsett – 30 confirmed, 5 active, 23 recovered, 490 negative, 2 deaths.
Randolph – 26 confirmed, 5 active, 21 recovered, 922 negative.
Clay – 4 confirmed, 0 active 4 recovered, 481 negative.
Jackson – 1 confirmed, 0 active, 1 recovered, 231 negative.
Mississippi – 70 confirmed, 13 active. 55 recovered, 992 negative, 2 deaths.
Cross – 42 confirmed, 10 active, 32 recovered, 585 negative.
Sharp – 42 confirmed, 18 active, 22 recovered, 301 negative, 2 deaths.
Crittenden —293 confirmed, 72 active, 212 recovered, 1,666 negative, 9 deaths.
St. Francis – 639 confirmed, 324 active, 314 recovered, 2,520 negative, 1 death.