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Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson shows a protective mask he wore to a news conference on the coronavirus in De Queen on July 10, 2020 (Photo: KATV)

KATV РLittel Rock Рby Scott CarrollFriday, July 10th 2020

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday urged caution as the state logged another high number of new coronavirus cases.

Officials reported 751 new cases, bringing the total to 26,803. Four more people died from the virus. The state’s death toll is up to 313.

Hutchinson said Arkansas is “fighting a trend that we see across the South and the Southwest.” Texas, Louisiana, Florida and other states have reported record numbers of new cases in recent weeks. Some states have walked back plans to reopen, closing or reducing the capacity of bars and restaurants.

“We see our cases elevated in Arkansas and the simple lesson is … this virus does not give up,” Hutchinson said, speaking at a news conference in De Queen. “We have to continue to be very diligent. We have to be disciplined in this and continue with our strategy. If we let up for one second, it will come back and it will accelerate once again.”

The state reported 5,847 active cases of the virus.

Hutchinson said the state Department of Health has logged longer wait times for test results from commercial labs as cases surges across the U.S. The average time was 3.2 days in March, when the state reported its first case of the virus. It dipped to 1.6 days in April but has steadily increased since then. The average wait time this month is 2.5 days.

“That’s something that concerns us because we need quick results,” Hutchinson said. “That helps us to manage the outbreak, to control it, to isolate people that need to be isolated.”

Hutchinson has called on President Donald Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to avoid a national shortage of test kits. Trump invoked the act earlier this year, but used it to order the manufacturing of ventilators. Trump said at a rally in Tulsa last month that he’d ordered officials to reduce virus testing so the number of cases would look better. He later claimed he was being sarcastic.

Arkansas officials on Friday reported that eight more people had been hospitalized with the virus. The total number of hospitalized patients is up to 402.

“We’re not going to be through this until we get the vaccine,” Hutchinson said.

Nationwide, more than 133,000 people have died from the virus and at least 3.15 million have been infected.