LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas reported its largest one-day spike in new coronavirus cases on Friday and the governor said he expected more increases in the coming week but would press ahead with easing restrictions meant to slow the spread of the disease.


Gov. Asa Hutchinson said at least 11,547 people in the state have tested positive for the virus, an increase of 731 cases over Thursday. Hutchinson said 3,764 of those cases are active, meaning they don't include patients have died or recovered.


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


"As I look into next week, I do expect the cases to continue to increase," Hutchinson told reporters "I think that is natural whenever we see the pattern we've seen over the last week, particularly in northwest Arkansas."


Arkansas's virus figures have grown dramatically in recent weeks, with both hospitalizations and active cases more than doubling since Memorial Day.


Friday's marked both the largest overall one-day increase in cases and the largest among those not incarcerated, with 207 of the new cases coming from correctional facilities. The number people of people hospitalized because of the virus jumped by 16 from Thursday to 203, and the number of deaths rose by five to 176.


Health officials said a third of the 524 new cases among the non-incarcerated came from Tyson Foods, which announced Thursday that 199 workers at a poultry facility in Springdale contracted the disease. Only one of the workers had symptoms, which health officials said underscored the need to wear masks in public.


"By wearing that mask, if we are asymptotically infected, we decrease that risk significantly," Dr. Jose Romero, the Health Department's chief medical officer, said.


But the Republican governor said he didn't see a need to broadly require the wearing of masks in public, beyond the safety rules requiring them to be worn at certain businesses.


"That would not be enforceable, it would not be realistic in a rural state whenever they can socially distance in many circumstances," Hutchinson said.


The increase comes as Arkansas prepares to further lift virus restrictions on businesses starting Monday, a move Hutchinson has defended. The easing will increase the capacity limits for restaurants, bars, theaters and other businesses but keep other social distancing restrictions in place.


Hutchinson said he hasn't had second thoughts about loosening restrictions further, saying there hasn't been evidence linking the spike in cases to businesses reopening. Arkansas began allowing businesses that had shuttered because of the pandemic to reopen, but with capacity limits and other safety measures.


Arkansas is among a number of states pressing forward with reopening despite an increase in cases and hospitalizations.


The decision to further ease restrictions has prompted criticism from some lawmakers, particularly in the northwest region that has driven the recent spike, who say easing restrictions is giving the false impression that the virus's threat has passed.


"We're just not doing enough to emphasize how dangerous this virus is," Rep. Denise Garner, a Democrat from Fayetteville, said. "The more we keep going without mitigating the spread, the longer it takes our economy to come back."