Gov. Asa Hutchinson

Arkansas reported 139 new "probable" coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, pushing the state's death toll to 1,003.

The new deaths are of those who were diagnosed as probable cases with antigen tests or those who had COVID-19 as a contributing or underlying factor on their death certificate, health officials said Tuesday during a news conference.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the new number was "frustrating" because it throws off the state's daily numbers, but does not accurately show how the virus is spreading in Arkansas.

"We're concerned about every death, but i don't see that the [death rate] is accelerating, we're just accounting for deaths that happened previously," Hutchinson said.

There are 574 active cases in Arkansas schools, Hutchinson said Tuesday. That equals less than .2% of the statewide school population. Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero said an outbreak on the University of Arkansas' main campus in Fayettevill is coming under control.

Hutchinson said the state has been “a little bit hamstrung” trying to get tests turned around and reaching their testing goals. But 102,808 PCR tests were performed by Sept. 15, a good indicator that the state will meet its testing goal of 200,000 PCR tests this month. Romero said 5,852 tests were done Monday.

The health department has received 12,000 antigen tests that will be distributed across the state, officials announced during the briefing. The tests should guarantee two months of antigen testing, Hutchinson said. The new units will allow the state to test with a quicker turnaround and the governor said they will focus on testing for schools and colleges in Arkansas.

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