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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) Arkansas may further ease coronavirus restrictions by region rather than statewide, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Thursday even as the state’s active cases continued to rise overall.

Hutchinson said he is considering entering a “phase 2” loosening of lifting virus restrictions on businesses by region rather than statewide. The state in recent weeks has been allowing businesses that closed because of the pandemic to reopen, but with limits on capacity and other new rules.

Arkansas’ recent spike in cases has been fueled by an increase in northwest Arkansas. Hutchinson has said it is also partly due to increased testing in the state.

The Health Department said at least 8,425 people have tested positive for the virus, an increase from 8,067 reported Wednesday. The number of active cases, which excludes those who has died or recovered, rose to 2,355.

The true number is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

The number of people who have died from the illness caused by the virus rose by nine to 151.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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