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LITTLE ROCK — Coronavirus cases continued to soar in Arkansas, approaching the 100,000 mark as Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Friday this weekend "is critical" to the state's fight against COVID-19.

State health officials reported 1,015 new coronavirus cases Friday, a high number for Arkansas but down from Thursday's daily-record 1,278 cases.

The state Department of Health on Tuesday reported that the new confirmed cases bring the state total for the outbreak to 97,539 with 8,609 now active and 590 requiring hospitalization.

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.

Meanwhile, 20 more people died of the coronavirus Friday, bringing the state death toll to 1,665.

In a statement Friday, while noting Thursday's record number of new cases, Hutchinson called it "another new record in our testing efforts. With over 15,000 total tests, we can see the results of our investment and commitment to grow Arkansas's testing infrastructure."

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