LITTLE ROCK — While announcing another 520 positive coronavirus diagnoses in 24 hours, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday that the state’s economic forecast has been revised.
The new cases brought the state’s total to at least 20,777. Of the new cases, Washington County had 152, Pulaski County had 118, Benton County had 33, Faulkner County had 23, Yell County had 21 and the rest were all under 20, the governor said.
State Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith said at least 18 of the new cases were in correctional facilities. Of the total, 5,976 are considered active, with 120 in nursing homes, at least 548 in prison facilities and the remainder in the community at large.
Smith said more than 40,000 nursing home residents and staff had been tested by Tuesday afternoon. Of the total number of cases, 14,531 are considered recovered, an addition of 465 over the previous 24 hours.
Hutchinson said the state isn’t predicted to take such an economic hit as was originally estimated. He said the state will end the fiscal year about $360 million ahead of forecasts.
That, he said, means the Revenue Stabilization Act will be filled and will restore $121 million to public education and $42.4 million to higher education.
The state’s revenue forecast was upgraded to $5.624 billion, so $72.2 million will be returned to the Medicaid Trust Fund. The trust fund will carry a balance of $255 million into the new fiscal year, the governor said.
The state will see $225 million in unallocated reserves, which will remain until the General Assembly meets in 2021 to decide what to do with that money.
So, Hutchinson announced Tuesday that he had authorized a 2.2% merit salary increase for state employees.