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 Arkansas on Thursday reported 455 more cases of the coronavirus, the state's largest daily increase since the pandemic began.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said in a news conference that the rise in cases reflects an increase in testing. Testing has accelerated under initiatives to test 60,000 people by the end of the month along with every nursing home resident and employee in the state. Still, Hutchinson said, the increase is concerning.

"We're watching it very carefully," he said.

Smith said about half the cases reported Thursday came from prisons and were already known. He said those cases were delayed additions to the state's count. The other cases came through community transmission and were found across the state.

There state's total number of cases increased to 5,458. Of those cases, 1,433 were considered to be active.

Three new deaths were reported Thursday, bringing the state's total to 110.

At least 96,258 tests have been conducted in Arkansas. About 4.4 percent of test results have been positive.

Hutchinson announced Thursday that certain amateur sports will be allowed to resume June 1 with health measures in place. Limited-contact sports including baseball, softball, track, gymnastics and swimming will be allowed to resume. Athletes and coaches must undergo health screenings and protective masks must be worn when not actively competing. Shared equipment must be sanitized and participants must practice social distancing when possible.

Close-contact sports including basketball, wrestling, football, volleyball, soccer and martial arts are still prohibited. Collegiate sports also remain prohibited.

Hutchinson announced Thursday that Crater of Diamonds State Park will reopen Friday. The number of visitors will be limited to 500 and social distancing will be enforced.

This article originally ran on

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