LITTLE ROCK — Coronavirus cases increased by 1,278 Thursday, which was the largest one-day increase since the start of the pandemic.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson provided an update on Arkansas’ COVID-19 response.

“I expected the number of new cases to increase as we enter the last part of the week. This has been the pattern, but the cases reported today set a new record high,” Hutchinson said in a press release. “Our increased testing efforts allow us to find cases already present and react to them. Each one of us must be proactive in our individual efforts to help slow the spread of this virus.”

In its Thursday update, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 1,278 new cases and 8,424 active cases; 594 hospitalized, which is up 7 from Wednesday; 106 on ventilators, which was down 7 from Wednesday; and 11 deaths added Thursday for a total of 1,645.

Overall, the state has seen a total of 96,524 cases; 82,529 recoveries; PCR tests, 10,786; antigen tests, 1,094.

The health department reported that the top counties for new cases are Pulaski, 83; Benton, 76; Washington, 65; Craighead, 61; and Sebastian, 55.

According to the health department’s website, as of Thursday afternoon Pope County had 2,470 total cumulative cases and 182 total active cases, with 2,252 recoveries and 36 deaths.

Yell County had 1,303 total cumulative cases and 27 total active cases, with 1,246 recoveries and 30 deaths Thursday, according to the website.

The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement reported Thursday that 26 Arkansas school districts have had 50 or more new known COVID-19 infections per 10,000 district residents over a 14-day period, up from 13 a week earlier.

No Arkansas River Valley school districts made the list of school districts.

ACHI identified school districts in the “red zone” for infections by analyzing data received Monday from the Arkansas Department of Health. The infections are among all people living within the geographical boundaries of the school districts and are not specific to school employees and students. Known infections include confirmed cases and probable cases based on verbal reporting and antigen test results, as identified by the Department of Health.

“The doubling of the number of school districts in the red zone in one week is a cause for concern,” said ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson. “Most of the districts entering the red zone this week are in rural areas, which shows that COVID-19 is affecting all parts of the state. Residents of these districts should be especially careful to take precautions against further spread: Maintain six feet of distance from people who are not members of your household and wear a mask when out in public.”

The following 26 school districts had a rate of at least 50 new known infections per 10,000 district residents, or 0.5 percent of the population, for the period of Sept. 28 through Oct. 12. An asterisk denotes a district that entered the red zone this week.

Armorel School District

Barton-Lexa School District

Berryville Public Schools

Brookland School District

Cedar Ridge School District

Clarendon School District

Corning Public Schools

County Line School District

Deer/Mount Judea School District

DeWitt School District

Green Forest School District

Hoxie School District

Jackson County School District

Lawrence County School District

Mammoth Spring Schools

Marked Tree School District

Mulberry School District

Nettleton School District

Newport School District

Ozark School District

Paris School District

Sloan-Hendrix School District

Spring Hill School District

Stuttgart School District

Viola School District

Westside Consolidated School District

“The doubling of the number of school districts in the red zone in one week is a cause for concern,” said ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson. “Most of the districts entering the red zone this week are in rural areas, which shows that COVID-19 is affecting all parts of the state. Residents of these districts should be especially careful to take precautions against further spread: Maintain six feet of distance from people who are not members of your household and wear a mask when out in public.”