Northern Arkansas Legislator Test Positive for COVID-19

From: KTLO/Associated Press

An Arkansas lawmaker tested positive for the coronavirus, a House spokeswoman said, the second to be infected since the Legislature began its session last week.

Rep. Keith Slape told the House speaker Tuesday he had tested positive for the virus, House spokeswoman Cecillea Pond-Mayo said. She said Slape, a Republican from Compton in Newton County, was at home with mild symptoms.

Slape is at least the 23rd Arkansas state legislator to test positive for the virus since the pandemic began. Arkansas has had the second largest outbreak among state legislators, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press.

The House and Senate convened last week with safety measures intended to prevent the virus’ spread including limits on seating, plastic barriers in both chambers and rules allowing remote voting. Both chambers have also passed rules requiring lawmakers, staff and visitors to wear masks.

The Legislature has not been in session since Thursday.

Also Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he was cautiously optimistic to see a decrease in the daily number of new virus cases. Arkansas reported 1,331 new cases Tuesday and 43 more deaths.

“We have to be mindful that we’ve had some dips in the past and it surges up,” Hutchinson said. “We don’t want that to happen again.”

Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases in Arkansas has decreased by nearly 13%, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Still, the state’s per capita rate of 1,243.7 new cases per 100,000 people ranks fifth in the country, according to Johns Hopkins.

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