Covid-19 cases spiked in Arkansas over the weekend, reaching a new record on Saturday.
The one-day total hit a disconcerting 1,061 new cases in a week filled with high daily numbers.
Leading up to Saturday's record, the state reported 734 new cases on Wednesday, 806 on Thursday and 751 on Friday.
From Sunday through Tuesday, the numbers dropped to 500-plus a day. The pace of the spread is frightening, particularly with the start of school supposedly just weeks away.
Arkansas is doing well in its fight against covid-19 in some respects, not so well in others.
Granted, Arkansas is in nowhere near the dire trouble they're having in Florida, New Mexico, Texas and California, the current hot spots for the disease.
But our situation is worsening. We are experiencing greater community spread of the disease and seeing state efforts to test and follow up on new cases hampered.
Along with all these new cases has come a rise in the percentage of the overall tests that are coming back positive -- when the test results finally come back.
The total number of cases since the start of the pandemic will pass 30,000 in another day or two. Active cases are over 6,500 with 445 hospitalized around the state.
As of Tuesday, the Arkansas death toll attributed to covid-19 stood at 331.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state health authorities have significantly increased coronavirus testing in this state in the past two months, particularly in the dense population centers where many of the cases have developed.
They intend to do even more testing, which Hutchinson maintains is key to the return to anything approaching normalcy.
But more tests only help if the results from those tests are delivered in time to isolate covid-19 victims and track down others who may have been exposed before they carry it to even more people.
Unfortunately, even the state's best efforts to contact those who may have been infected are stymied by people who won't answer their phones to calls from the tracers.
Meanwhile, Arkansas and all the rest of the states have common problems with getting enough testing done and with the timely return of test results.
That's the point Gov. Hutchinson made in Arkansas last week and again on national television on Sunday. Hutchinson wants President Donald Trump to invoke the National Defense Production Act to ensure commercial laboratories can meet the ever-increasing demand for testing.
The testing supply chain needs to be beefed up. So, too, does the capacity of the half-dozen out-of-state labs that generate most of the results from covid-19 tests nationally.
In-state testing has helped expand how much testing has been done in Arkansas, but this state, like all the others, relies most heavily on the commercial labs.
With covid-19 surging dramatically across the South and in the Southwest, Hutchinson said the labs are taking longer to get test results back to the states.
The average turnaround for an Arkansas test so far in July, he said, is 2.5 days, although there are reports of results taking several days longer.
Hutchinson worries that the delays will only worsen without federal support for the labs.
"We need quick results," Hutchinson said. "That helps us to manage the outbreak, to control it, to isolate people that need to be isolated."
The situation is as simple and as complicated as that.
"This virus does not give up," as the governor put it. "If we let up for one second, it will come back and accelerate again."
While Hutchinson has appealed to the White House for its intervention on the testing issues, he also continues his persuasion campaign aimed at getting fellow Arkansans to take covid-19 more seriously.
The mask-wearing governor models the message day in and day out, practically begging Arkansans to wash their hands, wear some sort of face covering in public and observe social distancing indoors and out.
Those remain the simple and effective defenses available to each of us against a disease that threatens us all.
Hutchinson still won't mandate what he says are unenforceable controls.
Yet, without compliance, expect ever-higher case numbers in Arkansas and greater covid-related consequences to follow.
Brenda Blagg is a freelance columnist and longtime journalist in Northwest Arkansas. Email her at [email protected]