- Associated Press - Friday, December 4, 2020

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - For a second consecutive day, Arkansas set a record for the number of new coronavirus cases in a day, officials announced on Friday.

Arkansas’ confirmed and probable virus cases increased by 2,827 to 167,137, according to the state Department of Health. Friday’s one-day increase was the biggest the state has seen since it reported 2,789 new cases just a day earlier.

The state’s COVID-19 deaths rose by 31 to 2,586.

“We are at a critical point in combating this virus as we continue to see record numbers of new cases each day. This battle will not be won by the actions of a few; it will take each Arkansan doing our part to win this fight,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement.

Arkansas’ COVID-19 hospitalizations decreased for the second day in a row on Friday, dropping by 31 to 1,041. Hospitalizations had been hitting record highs earlier in the week.

Hutchinson, who has resisted calls to close bars or further scale back restaurants’ capacity, has said the state may reduce the size of indoor gatherings that would require state approval. Under the state’s current coronavirus restrictions, indoor events with more than 100 people expected must have a plan approved beforehand by the state.

The record increase in new cases came as a North Little Rock police sergeant who was infected with the coronavirus while on duty has died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to Police Chief Tracy Roulston.

Sgt. J.L. “Buck” Dancy, 62, died Wednesday after contracting the virus along with other officers during a work-related incident, said Roulston, who declined to discuss the specifics of the incident that resulted in Dancy’s infection.

“We used contact tracing just like everyone else, and we’ve been able to verify through that process that there’s no doubt that that’s where he ended up making contact,” Roulston said Thursday. “I’ve had about seven or eight officers that tested positive out of this one incident.”

The true number of infections in Arkansas is likely higher because many haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

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