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LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas reported 791 confirmed new cases of the coronavirus, and eight more people in the state have died from the illness caused by the virus, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Thursday.

That brings the total number of people who have tested positive to 41,559 since the pandemic began in early March, although the actual number of cases in Arkansas is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

The eight additional deaths reported Thursday bring the statewide death toll to 442.

Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero also announced Thursday that the state would no longer require COVID-19 testing of all patients before undergoing elective surgeries, opting instead to make it optional for individual physicians or medical centers. Romero said the decision was made because "far less than 1%" of patients were testing positive for the virus.

Hutchinson also said he was authorizing an additional 14 National Guard personnel to assist the Department of Health with various operations. They will join 28 National Guard personnel who already have been activated, Hutchinson said.

The governor said public schools in Arkansas remain on track to reopen the week beginning Aug. 24, and he said health officials plan to make an announcement Friday about fall high school sports, including cheerleading, football and volleyball.

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