6th Arkansas GOP lawmaker tests positive for virus

    (AP) — An Arkansas state lawmaker running for reelection is quarantining after testing positive for the coronavirus, she said, becoming the sixth lawmaker in the Legislature to become infected.

    State Rep. Charlene Fite, from Van Buren, revealed the positive test result Saturday night in a Facebook post. She said she was experiencing mild symptoms and would be forced to quarantine for the final days of her reelection campaign.

    Fite’s positive test came three days after two other lawmakers, state Sen. Missy Irvin and state Rep. Joe Cloud, tested positive for the coronavirus. Legislative leaders revealed the day before positive test results for three other state lawmakers: Sen. Terry Rice and state Reps. Michelle Gray and Stu Smith. All of the infected are Republicans.

    Amid a surge in coronavirus cases, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he was scaling back his public events and meetings after being exposed to someone with the virus.

    Arkansas is one of 15 states that have recorded more new coronavirus cases in the past seven days than in any comparable period since tracking of the pandemic began at the start of March. In an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Hutchinson said the state’s hospitalization space “is tight.”

    “We have adequate space, but we watch it very carefully. And the spike in cases that we’ve seen is a concern. I think it reflects what we’re all looking at nationwide in terms of going into the winter, combination of flu, the combination of more indoor settings,” he said.

    State health officials reported 797 new coronavirus cases Sunday in Arkansas, 667 of them confirmed and 130 probable. Active Arkansas cases rose by 231 cases to 9,766. Fourteen new hospitalizations brought that total to 633. Fifteen new deaths brought the Arkansas death toll since the pandemic first hit the state to 1,812.

    The number of reported coronavirus cases in Arkansas has increased by 1,183 on Saturday, and the number of deaths by 15, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

    There are currently a total of 105,318 cases statewide and 1,797 deaths since the pandemic began in March, compared to 104,135 cases and 1,782 deaths on Friday. The actual number of cases in Arkansas is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

    The health department reported that there are 9,535 active cases in the state, and 93,977 people have recovered.

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