ARKANSAS, USA — In a press conference on June 24, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced he has directed the Arkansas Department of Health to double the amount of contact tracers in the state.
"Whenever you have this level of new cases, that challenges the resources on our contact tracing, which is a fundamental part of our strategy," Hutchinson said. "We have to be able to do that effectively."
The number of contact tracers will be doubled from 350 to 700. The governor said this will be an additional cost of $22 million.
Gov. Hutchinson said this is an "absolutely essential" step as we look at cases that increase in different parts of the state.
The governor said the first step, of course, is testing. In June, the state has conducted over 120,000 tests so far, which he believes will increase to around 140,000.
In July, the governor says the goal is to test 180,000 Arkansans.
"This will mean that we will be testing, not 2% of the population or 4% of the population, but if we reach that goal, we will be testing 6% of the population in Arkansas," Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson reiterates that it will depend on demand and resources, but this is the set goal for now.
The Arkansas Department of Health will be have three surge events in the coming weeks in Washington and Benton counties to "enlarge our testing capacity and radar system there."