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story.lead_photo.caption Gov. Asa Hutchinson arrives Tuesday, Sept. 29 in Little Rock for his weekly covid-19 briefing at the state Capitol. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staton Breidenthal)

The number of Arkansans hospitalized with covid-19 increased by 22 on Sunday to a record high of 576.

Arkansas coronavirus hospitalizations were at record levels Tuesday through Friday before dropping by six on Saturday. The total on Saturday is still the third-highest number of coronavirus hospitalizations since the pandemic began.

The state’s count of deaths rose Sunday by 17, to 1,569.

In an interview with CNN on Sunday morning, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he was concerned about the increase in hospitalizations.

“We still have capacity,” Hutchinson told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “But with the onset of flu season, you not only have to follow the guidelines in reference to covid, everybody needs to get their flu shot. So we’re continuing to do everything we can. The main thing is you take it seriously.”

In a tweet on Sunday afternoon, Hutchinson said, “We continue to test at a very high level, already surpassing 100,000 PCR tests this month. New cases lead to new hospitalizations, so please continue to follow the Department of Health guidelines.”

The governor was referring to polymerase chain-reaction tests, which are used to confirm cases of the coronavirus.

The number of total cases of coronavirus increased by 613 on Sunday, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. In addition to cases diagnosed with PCR tests, that number also includes 59 probable cases found through less-sensitive antigen testing.

Total active cases, as tracked by the state Health Department, increased by 66, to 7,801, in Sunday’s report.

The number of Arkansas hospital patients on ventilators increased by one on Sunday to 99.

The number of people who have ever been hospitalized in the state with the virus rose by 10, to 5,910. The number who have ever been on a ventilator rose by one, to 731.

The cumulative case count rose to 92,883. That comprised 88,352 confirmed cases and 4,531 probable ones.

Counties with the most new confirmed cases in Sunday’s report were Pulaski with 99, Crawford with 29, Craighead with 25, Washington with 23 and Benton with 21.

This story has been updated. The original version is below:

2:19 p.m.: Hutchinson: People now taking virus more seriously

Arkansans have been taking the coronavirus more seriously since it swept through the White House after a Sept. 26 event in the Rose Garden, Gov. Asa Hutchinson told CNN on Sunday.

Several people, including President Donald Trump, tested positive for the coronavirus after the nomination ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the Rose Garden. Few people at the outdoor event wore masks or kept their social distance. Afterward, there was a reception inside the White House.

"After the White House challenge that we saw and the cases that arose from that event with the president, people are taking it very seriously, even more so than ever, wearing the masks," Hutchinson, speaking from Fayetteville, told CNN. "It is getting better and we want it to continue to."

CNN's Jake Tapper asked Hutchinson if he'd want his family to attend a Trump rally in Arkansas if mask wearing and social distancing weren't required.

"They offer masks," said Hutchinson. "They do screenings whenever they come to the rallies. Certainly we want to have an engagement in the presidential campaign this year ... but yes, there should not be any mass gathering without social distancing. The social distancing is so important. Or wear a mask. If you're going to sit next to somebody, wear a mask. It's important that, we have seen by illustration the challenge of the virus at a spreader event when you don't socially distance. We also can utilize this as an example, in other words a teaching moment."

Earlier in the interview, Hutchinson told Tapper that an increase in hospitalizations has him concerned. The number of people hospitalized with covid-19 in Arkansas was at record levels Tuesday through Friday, then dropped by 6 on Saturday to 554, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

"We still have capacity," he said. "But with the onset of flu season, you not only have to follow the guidelines in reference to covid, everybody needs to get their flu shot. So we're continuing to do everything we can. The main thing is you take it seriously."

Hutchinson said people need to be able to go about their "life activities," but they need to keep their distance or wear masks.

"People cannot be shut up for seven months. They've got to live life," he said. "But we have to do that with the social distancing."

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