Coronavirus Coverage

COVID-19 Update: Arkansas Department of Health announces new partnership with Baptist Health

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) announced a new partnership with Baptist Health during a press conference led by Governor Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday, Sept. 9.

Governor Hutchinson reported 385 new COVID-19 cases. Cumulative cases have reached 66,406, and there have been 11 additional deaths reported, according to a tweet from ADH.

During the press conference, located at the Capitol, Hutchinson shared that ADH has partnered with Baptist Health to increase the state’s testing capacity by 20%. “Baptist Health will provide the personnel to operate the thermal fissure machine, which the Department of Health is providing to Baptist,” Hutchinson said. “Baptist Health will be operating this machine 24 hours per day seven days a week, which is a very significant commitment and, again, an expansion of our testing capacity here in Arkansas.”

Troy Wells, president and CEO of the Baptist Health System, emphasized the positive impact the partnership will have on healthcare in Arkansas. “First and foremost, it will benefit the state of Arkansas in the Department of Health’s commercial lab,” Wells. “Each day, the first block of tests will be dedicated to the Department of Health and then after that block of tests is used up, Baptist Health can utilize that machine to run its test that we normally would be sending out of state.”

When asked if the lower total for active COVID-19 cases was due to a lack of testing during the Labor Day weekend, Hutchinson asserted that testing remained high during that time. “Our positives remained much lower than, of course, last Friday and I was actually encouraged by both the high testing numbers and the lower positivity rate in that testing,” Hutchinson said.

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