State employees in Arkansas will soon have the opportunity to earn a raise as a result of their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday a 3% "performance or merit" bonus will be given to state agencies, that in turn will be distributed to their employees based on their work.
"This last year, our workforce has shown dedication, resilience and flexibility during this pandemic. It’s been circumstances that no workforce has been through in the last 100 years," Hutchinson said.
According to Hutchinson, this pay amount to state employees is the largest one since he took over as governor, costing the state around $11.2 million dollars in state general revenue and a total of $28 million from "all sources" including federal ones.
Hutchinson said this amount will be added to the employee’s base pay instead of making it a one-time bonus.
The governor also announced a new policy concerning COVID-19 and schools: children who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required quarantine from school if they are exposed to COVID-19.
"What this means for the students is, it will minimize education loss. They will be able to stay in the classroom. They won’t have to quarantine. They will be able to continue their education, even if they’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19," Hutchinson said.
The new policy also applies to teachers in the state, he said.
According to numbers from the Arkansas Department of Health, the state added 231 cases on Tuesday, bringing the cumulative number of cases to 342,726. Of those new cases, 62 are considered active. The total number of active cases is now 1,656.
The number of Arkansans hospitalized with COVID-19 increased by 29 for a total of 204. Three more Arkansans have died from the virus, with the death toll is now 5,852.
The state distributed over 6,000 COVID-19 vaccinations in the 24-hour period leading to Tuesday afternoon. Over 926,000 Arkansans are now fully immunized.