Arkansas COVID-19

Reports and programming on coronavirus disease 2019 and its impact on Arkansas.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Arkansas has seen its largest two-day increase in positive coronavirus test results, bringing the total number of cases to 2,227 and the total deaths from COVID-19 to 43.

In his daily press briefing Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state added 304 new coronavirus cases, with 262 of those at the Cummins Unit near Pine Bluff. As of late Monday, 670 inmates and 10 prison staff have tested positive for the virus.

A group of medical professionals is asking death penalty states, including Arkansas, for medications used both for lethal injections and to help coronavirus patients who are on ventilators.

But a doctor who's behind the request and a death penalty expert say secrecy surrounding executions could hinder their efforts.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Inmates at a state prison account for roughly one-third of all Arkansas coronavirus cases as the state’s death toll from COVID-19 rises to 42.

In his daily briefing on the pandemic Monday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state has seen a total of 1,923 positive coronavirus test results, an increase of 142 from Sunday. Two additional patients died from the virus, while 93 were hospitalized and 24 were on a ventilator.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (left) listens Sunday as Department of Corrections Director Dexter Payne discusses the outbreak at the Cummins Unit in southeast Arkansas.
Governor's Office / YouTube

The number of coronavirus deaths in Arkansas increased to 40 on Sunday, including – for the first time – a health care worker.

Dr. Nate Smith, secretary of the Department of Health, said it was someone who worked at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff and was associated with the first outbreak in the state. Another death announced Sunday involved a nursing home resident, Smith said. He did not offer any additional details, other than to say both were under the age of 65.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Saturday announced the creation of the Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force, which is charged with making recommendations on how best to return the state’s economy to normal following the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The recommendations must be consistent with public health requirements, Hutchinson said, while creating confidence among state residents. The announcement came one day after the governor announced a May 4 target date to begin “Phase 1” reopening of the state's economy. 

Governor's Office / YouTube

The number of inmates at an Arkansas prison testing positive for the coronavirus has nearly tripled, less than a week after the first case at the facility was identified.

This comes as Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he hopes to see an easing of some restrictions on businesses in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic as early as May 4.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Four more people have died from COVID-19 in Arkansas, bringing the state’s total number of deaths from the disease to 37. Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the uptick at his daily briefing on the outbreak Thursday, saying the number of people in Arkansas who have tested positive for the virus has risen to 1,620.

Though the total number of coronavirus infections continues to grow, Hutchinson said the state’s daily increase in cases appears to be on the decline.

The surge in Arkansas jobless claims receded last week by 44%, according to Thursday’s U.S. Department of Labor report. Arkansas’ total for the week ending April 11 was 34,635, down from a spike of 62,086 the week prior.

The latest data pushed Arkansas’ total the past four weeks to 133,752.

Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration Director of Budget Jake Bleed (left) and Education Secretary Johnny Key at the Joint Budget Committee meeting Wednesday.
Arkansas Citizens Access Network

Legislative leaders expect to wrap up the biennial fiscal session of the Arkansas General Assembly on Thursday. The House and Senate gave initial approval Wednesday to identical versions of the $5.8 billion Revenue Stabilization Act for the budget year that begins in July.

Lawmakers had been pressured to complete the session as quickly as possible given the threat of the COVID-19 outbreak. Fiscal sessions typically last at least a month, but Thursday will be the ninth day for this one.

Governor's Office / YouTube

The Arkansas Department of Health is now allowing anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 to receive a coronavirus test as the state’s death toll from the disease rises to 33.

Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith announced the department would revise its testing criteria at Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s daily coronavirus press briefing Wednesday, where he said 1,569 people have tested positive for the virus in Arkansas.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he’s granting healthcare providers immunity from lawsuits related to the coronavirus outbreak and allowing first responders sickened by COVID-19 to receive workers’ compensation insurance.

The governor announced the two executive orders at a briefing Tuesday, where he said two more people have died from COVID-19 in Arkansas, bringing the state’s death toll to 32. 1,498 people in the state have also tested positive for the coronavirus, with 1,024 considered active cases.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Nearly 100 inmates and staffers at prisons in Arkansas have tested positive for the coronavirus as the state again sets a record for the largest single-day increase in new cases.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Monday that 1,410 people have tested positive for the virus in the state, while 30 people have died from COVID-19. That’s an increase of 130 new cases from Sunday, and seven more deaths since last Friday.

Little Rock Family Planning Services
Arkansas Times

COVID-19 safety precautions have become the backdrop for the latest abortion arguments in Arkansas. Lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of Little Rock Family Planning Services, filed a lawsuit Monday contesting a cease and desist order issued by the state last week.

Varner Arkansas Department of Correction Cummins Prison
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The first state prisoner in Arkansas has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.

Arkansas Department of Corrections spokeswoman Dina Tyler says the man tested positive for COVID-19 at a hospital Saturday. He was being held at the Cummins Unit in Grady, about 75 miles southeast of Little Rock.

Other prisoners and staff who were exposed to the man have been tested for the virus, and access to his housing unit has been restricted. Tyler says that as of Friday 13 corrections employees were quarantined after testing positive.

Talk Business & Politics

One of the obvious outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic is that telemedicine and telehealth will no longer be a wave of the future. They’re here and here to stay.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson loosened regulations on the use of telehealth due to the coronavirus outbreak that had previously limited the ability of doctors, nurses and patients to see one another in person to start a relationship. In an executive order issued in late March, Hutchinson suspended the rules that require a face-to-face meeting to establish a physician-patient relationship.

Last Responders: Arkansas Funeral Homes And Coroners Prepare For Rising Death Toll

Apr 10, 2020
Josh Taylor Ruebel Funeral Homes
Brian Chilson / ANNN

Funerals aren’t what people want to think about during a pandemic. In a moment when every ounce of health care workers’ energy is poured into preserving life, when the entire globe is engaged in a concerted effort to stave it off, dwelling on the death count feels borderline treasonous. Then again, death isn’t something people want to think about under normal circumstances, either.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Arkansas’s top public health official says the state has ordered a Little Rock clinic to stop providing elective surgical abortions as the coronavirus outbreak continues.

The order comes as two more people have died from COVID-19 in Arkansas, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to 23. 1,171 people have tested positive for the virus in Arkansas, with 836 of those considered active cases.

USDA - McKeand

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the economy, sectors involving forestry industry are no exception.

According to research from the University of Arkansas at Monticello’s College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources, changes in housing, manufacturing as well as consumer goods are also shifting the forest products industry. 

Dr. Matthew Pelkki is the chair of forest economics at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. He says paper products are seeing varying demands depending on the products themselves, with most seeing a decline.

Federal Funds To Aid Little Rock Renters, First Responders

Apr 9, 2020
Frank Scott Jr.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The City of Little Rock now has almost $2 million in federal grant money to help with the city’s COVID-19 response. Two federal programs contributed to the grant award, which will help fund the city’s Emergency Management Division and the Department of Housing and Neighborhood Programs. 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, signed into law by President Donald Trump late last month, awarded the city’s Housing and Neighborhood Programs department over $960,000. Almost $880,000 of those funds will go to the city’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program. 

Governor's Office / YouTube

Three more people have died from the disease caused by the coronavirus in Arkansas bringing the state’s total number of COVID-19 deaths to 21.

Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health Dr. Nate Smith announced the deaths at Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s daily coronavirus briefing Thursday, where Hutchinson said 1,094 people have tested positive for the virus.

Despite the increase of 71 new cases from Wednesday to Thursday, Hutchinson said Arkansas remains below projections and behind other states in the region for the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19.

Governor's Office / YouTube

A midst a sea of masked legislators, Gov. Asa Hutchinson addressed the 92nd General Assembly, which opened its biennial fiscal session on Wednesday in Little Rock.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Four weeks after the first confirmed case of the coronavirus was identified in Arkansas, 1,023 people in the state have tested positive for the virus. Gov. Asa Hutchinson made the announcement Wednesday, noting there were 77 additional cases over the previous 24 hours.

Arkansas Department of Health
KATV-Channel 7

Arkansas health officials say the number of coronavirus cases in the state has reached 1,000. The state Department of Health says the state has had 18 deaths.

Arkansas shut down its public schools, closed many businesses and banned gatherings of more than 10 people. But it has stopped short of issuing the stay-at-home orders that most other states have imposed.

Wikimedia Commons

As many people are using delivery services to limit their time in public during the current health crisis, those who deliver the goods are in high demand. But one delivery driver who spoke with KUAR News expressed grave concerns about her job. We're not naming her employer.

Sarah Chaney delivers pizzas and says she wanted to raise attention that many like her aren't being adequately protected or compensated. A key concern is that her restaurant delivers to a Little Rock nursing home that has had over a dozen confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. says he would order residents of the city to stay indoors, but is prevented from doing so by an executive order from Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

That was said during the same press briefing Tuesday where Hutchinson announced Arkansas has experienced two more deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total number to 18. An additional 71 people have tested positive for the virus, with a state total of 946.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

As the number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas continues to increase, officials announced Monday that schools in the state will remain closed for onsite instruction through the end of the school year.

Alternative forms of education will continue in the coming weeks online and through Arkansas PBS, said Education Secretary Johnny Key. Speaking to reporters at the state Capitol, he urged educators not to attempt to "replicate the classroom experience," and to be flexible with time limits for assignments.

File photo. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

As Arkansans continue to change their routines and lives due to the coronavirus pandemic, some are finding new ways to take advantage of the situation and of  others for their own gain.

KUAR spoke with Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge about some scams that are emerging due to COVID-19. 

Below is a transcript of the aired conversation.

Talk Business & Politics

On Jan. 19, 2020, Gov. Asa Hutchinson began to assume the worst. That was the day a 35-year old Washington state resident was identified as having COVID-19 – the first U.S. coronavirus patient.

“Like many Americans, when I first saw that this hit in China, I thought that it would probably be confined there,” Hutchinson said in an exclusive Talk Business & Politics interview aired Sunday.

Governor Gov Asa Hutchinson face mask
Governor's Office / YouTube

COVID-19 cases in Arkansas jumped to 830 on Sunday, up 96 cases from the 734 on Saturday. It is the largest one-day increase since the pandemic arrived in the state. 64 of the state’s 75 counties now have at least one COVID-19 case. The number of deaths rose from 14 to 16.

The number of COVID patients hospitalized in Arkansas was 67 on Sunday, down from the 72 on Saturday. As of Sunday at 1 p.m., there were 324,052 U.S. cases and 9,180 deaths. Globally, there were 1,249,107 cases and 67,999 deaths.

Nate Smith
Governor's Office / YouTube

Two additional deaths from COVID-19 were reported Saturday in Arkansas, bringing the total to 14. The number of people testing positive for the virus has reached 743, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said, an increase of 39 from the previous day. 

Meanwhile efforts to help businesses facing financial hardships are coming to fruition, he told reporters. State officials have approved 80 bridge loans through the Quick Action Loan Guaranty Program, with $1.7 million going out to help businesses facing financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hutchinson said.