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story.lead_photo.caption Nurse Pansy James (center) administers a covid-19 test, Saturday, May 23, 2020 at the Center for Nonprofits parking lot in Springdale. - Photo by Charlie Kaijo

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Department of Health is continuing to increase covid-19 testing in Washington County to help slow the spread of the virus, officials say.

"This virus does not give up," said Gov. Asa Hutchinson Friday in his daily news briefing. "If we let up for one second, it will come back and accelerate once again."

Testing helps measure if there's an ongoing spread or a decline in covid-19 cases to determine the necessary public health response, said Danyelle McNeill, Arkansas Department of Health public information officer.

The department is actively offering testing at the Washington County health unit for the general population, McNeill said.

The department has scheduled a mass testing event from 7 to 11 a.m. today at the county health unit on Wimberly Drive.

Extended testing hours at the unit will be offered starting next week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in a drive-through format, McNeill said.

Targeted testing for high risk populations and businesses that have had a large portion of their workforce test positive is also being done, McNeill said. The department participates in multiple community coordination groups to identify testing needs, she said.

The demand for tests has been high, McNeill said.

"As such, we are offering options to assure anyone who wants to be tested can receive a test," she said.

Hot Spring County led the state Friday in the number of new cases, Hutchinson said. Of the state's 751 new cases within 24 hours, Hot Spring County had 105, followed by Pulaski County with 100, Benton County with 54 and Washington County with 51.

Arkansas had a cumulative growth rate of about 18% for new cases of covid-19 from June 28 to July 4, Hutchinson said. Central Arkansas led the state with a growth rate of about 27% during the same window, followed by Northwest Arkansas and southeast Arkansas with about 17% each and Northeast and southeast Arkansas with about 10% each.

Northwest Arkansas had the highest number of new cases of covid-19 as a public health sector for several weeks prior to central Arkansas taking the lead, he said.

"It ought to be encouraging," Hutchinson said of Northwest Arkansas. "They tightened things up. They really paid attention."

Springdale had the highest number of active covid-19 cases among cities in the state with 641 as of Thursday, the governor said at his Thursday briefing. Little Rock was second with 414, followed by Rogers with 256. Fayetteville was sixth in the state with 153 cases and Bentonville was 10th with 78 cases.

Twenty-two Benton County and 35 Washington County residents have died of covid-19 as of Friday, according to the Department of Health.

At least three Benton County and two Washington county residents have died of covid-19 since Sunday, according to the Benton County Coroner's Office.

Two Washington County residents died in Benton County, according to the coroner. A 58-year-old Springdale man and a 59-year-old Springdale woman both died Sunday. A 69-year-old Bentonville man died Sunday, followed by an 85-year-old Siloam Springs woman on Tuesday and a 59-year-old Rogers man on Wednesday, according to the coroner.

The number of deaths in Washington County for the past week was not available Friday.

A total of 6,635 tests, including 3,946 in Benton County and 2,689 in Washington County, were done in the past week, according to the Health Department.

Washington County has a positivity rate of 22%, according to the department. Benton County has a positivity rate of 8%.

Specimens to be tested are collected via nasal and mouth swabs. Testing is done at various commercial labs and the Health Department.

The Health Department began testing at county health units, including Fayetteville and Rogers, across the state May 18. The Fayetteville unit tested 1,157 people, and the Rogers unit 1,043 people as of Thursday, according to McNeill.

Community Clinic, which has four coronavirus screening sites in Northwest Arkansas, has collected specimens from 13,399 people, including 747 in the past week, from March 30 through Thursday, according to Abbie Luzius, community development manager. Patients are encouraged, but not required, to call before going to a clinic.

Mercy Health System collected specimens from approximately 7,077 people, including about 351 in the past week, from March 20 through Thursday, according to Jennifer Cook, spokeswoman. People who suspect they have covid-19 must call Mercy's call center and be screened before making an appointment at Mercy's evaluation site in Bentonville.

Washington Regional Health System has collected specimens to be tested from 10,504 people, including 1,471 since July 2, from March 16 through Thursday at its screening clinics and Fayetteville hospital, according to Natalie Hardin, spokeswoman. Patients are encouraged, but not required, to call before going to the clinics.

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Coronavirus screening sites

Washington County Health Unit: 3270 Wimberly Drive in Fayetteville. Patients should call (479) 521-8181 to make an appointment.

Benton County Health Unit: 1200 W. Walnut St. Suite 2200 in Rogers. Patients should call (479) 986-1300 to make an appointment.

Walmart/Quest testing site: 7-9 a.m. Thursdays and Fridays at Walmart Neighborhood Market, 1400 N. Walton Blvd. in Bentonville. Patients must schedule an appointment through Quest Diagnostic’s online portal, MyQuestCOVIDTest.com or MyQuest app.

UAMS digital screening: www.uamshealth.com/healthnow

UAMS hotline: (800) 632-4502

Washington Regional hotline: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, (479) 463-2055

Washington Regional Coronavirus Screening Center: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Sunday at Washington Regional Urgent Care, 3 E. Appleby Road. in Fayetteville

Washington Regional Coronavirus Screening Center: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Sunday at 3318 N. North Hills Blvd. in Fayetteville

• Washington Regional Urgent Care: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sunday at 1301 S. Walton Blvd. in Bentonville

• Washington Regional Urgent Care: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday., 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sunday at 808 U.S. Highway 65 in Harrison

• Washington Regional Urgent Care: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sunday at 2301 W. Pleasant Grove Road, Suite 101 in Rogers

• Washington Regional Urgent Care: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sunday at 3300 W. Sunset Ave. in Springdale

Washington Regional Family Clinic drive-through screening clinic: 8 a.m.-noon Monday through Friday, 146 Passion Play Road, Suite A in Eureka Springs

Arkansas Children’s Hospital hotline for child health: (800) 743-3616

Community Clinic Siloam Springs Medical: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 500 S. Mount Olive St., No. 200 in Siloam Springs

• Community Clinic Rogers Medical: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 1233 W. Poplar St. in Rogers

• Community Clinic Fayetteville Medical: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 162 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Suite 13-14 in Fayetteville

Community Clinic Springdale Medical and Pediatrics: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 614 E. Emma Ave., Suite 300 in Springdale

Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas Family Medicine South: 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 2523 E. Huntsville Road in Fayetteville

Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas online screening: mana.md/covid-19-screening/

Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas fever hotline: (479) 435-2500

MedExpress Urgent Care: 8 a.m.-8 p.m., 1160 S. 40th St. in Springdale. Patients must call (479) 750-2971 to make an appointment.

Northwest Medical Center: 601 S.W. Regional Airport Blvd. in Bentonville. Patients may call (479) 306-7507.

Northwest Medical Center: 2158 Butterfield Coach Road, Suite 100 in Springdale. Patients may call (479) 306-7507.

Mercy Coronavirus Evaluation Site: Mercy Convenient Care, 3101 S.E. 14th St. in Bentonville. Patients must call (479) 717-7585 beforehand to make an appointment to be screened.

Veterans enrolled in Veterans Affairs health care may call (800) 691-8387.

Source: NWA Democrat-Gazette

Mary Jordan can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @NWAMaryJ.

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