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story.lead_photo.caption Gov. Asa Hutchinson gives a coronavirus update during a press conference Saturday, May 23, 2020.

The number of coronavirus cases in Arkansas rose by 163 Saturday, bringing the state’s total to 5,775, according to numbers provided at Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s daily news conference.

The state’s death toll from the virus rose by two, to 115. The number of hospitalizations rose by five, to 86.

Hutchinson touted increased testing in the state while pointing to Arkansas’ relatively low positivity, hospitalization and death rates.

“We have improved our early warning system, which is our radar to know where we have cases in Arkansas and how we deal with that,” Hutchinson said.

Increased testing will help make contact tracing quicker and more responsive, the governor added.

To help with technical questions and initiatives related to contact tracing, Hutchinson announced that he would appoint a technical advisory board. Dr. Austin Porter III, the state’s Deputy Chief Science Officer, will serve as the chair.

The board will evaluate new technologies that are being used across the country and make recommendations to the governor, which could include an app to assist with contact tracing or other resources, Hutchinson said.

The two counties with the highest number of new cases were Benton and Washington, both in Northwest Arkansas. Benton County had 23 new cases, while Washington County had 20. Health Secretary Nate Smith said he did not have all the details related to those cases, so he could not yet say if they were related to recent cases at a poultry plant in the area.

Read Sunday’s Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.


Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state health officials will provide an update on Arkansas' covid-19 response at 1:30 p.m. Check back to watch the live video.

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