Arkansas COVID-19

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

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. 

Governor's Office / YouTube

The leader of Arkansas’s largest academic medical center says more cargo capacity is needed to provide adequate personal protective equipment to the state’s healthcare workers.

Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, made the appeal during Friday’s news conference by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who said the state currently has 704 positive cases of the coronavirus.

Arkansas Senate President Pro Tem Jim Hendren (R-Gravette) and House Speaker Matthew Shepherd (R-El Dorado) speak on their legislative priorities during a press event Friday
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers are preparing to meet again amid the coronavirus outbreak, but legislative leaders say they hope to wrap up work in less than two weeks.

Senate President Jim Hendren said Friday lawmakers will move forward as planned with the fiscal session set to begin on Wednesday.

The session is moving forward days after two House members tested positive for COVID-19.

The session will include similar social distancing restrictions to last week, when lawmakers approved a $173 million coronavirus fund. Health officials say Arkansas has had at least 687 cases.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is again defending his policy of a more targeted approach to restricting daily life in Arkansas as the death toll from COVID-19 rises to 12 people.

Hutchinson announced the latest deaths Thursday, saying 643 people in the state have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

With over 30 states in the U.S. implementing "stay-at-home" orders due to the coronavirus pandemic, Arkansas is in the minority of states without one. However, Gov. Asa Hutchinson says a targeted approach is currently a better way for the state to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Speaking live on the public radio program 1A Thursday morning, Hutchinson said targeting and closing businesses and other areas that pose a threat of coronavirus exposure is working for Arkansas at the moment.

Initial jobless claims in Arkansas for the week ending March 28 were 26,944, nearly triple the amount reported in the previous week. Jobless claims nationwide totaled 6.64 million, an increase of 3.34 million from the previous week’s revised level, according to Thursday’s U.S. Department of Labor report.

The Arkansas revised total for the week ending March 14, according to the Labor Department, was 9,275, more than six times the 1,382 in the previous week. The increase in the state’s jobless claims has skyrocketed roughly 1,850% in two weeks.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he’s asking the federal government for more ventilators as the death toll from COVID-19 in Arkansas rises to 10.

Hutchinson said Wednesday that 584 people in the state have tested positive for the coronavirus, including state Rep. Reginald Murdock, D-Marianna. Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health Dr. Nate Smith said two people over the age of 65 had died from the virus since Tuesday’s briefing.

Downtown Little Rock
Wikimedia Commons

In an effort to get ahead of any negative economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, Little Rock city directors have approved a more than 2% cut to the city’s budget for the 2020 fiscal year. 

During a special meeting Wednesday, board members, many of whom were calling in through phone or video chat, voted to pass an ordinance that cuts the city’s budget by $4,928,545.

Those cuts include:

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

The death toll from COVID-19 in Arkansas rose to eight Tuesday, with the total number of coronavirus cases at 523.

This comes as state health officials and Gov. Asa Hutchinson say the state’s efforts at "flattening the curve" through social distancing appear to be working.

Pinnacle Mountain State Park
File Photo

While non-essential businesses in Arkansas remain closed due to the coronavirus, state parks are still open for the public to enjoy, though some changes have been made to encourage social distancing. 

Earlier this month, the state Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism announced the closures of its lodges at DeGray Lake Resort, Mount Magazine, Petit Jean and Queen Wilhelmina. That’s in addition to the closures of events at the parks and visitors centers at 13 state parks, with exceptions granted for people checking into camp grounds or cabins.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Students in Arkansas won’t be going back to school until at least April 17. That also means no school breakfast or lunch, but in the meantime, nonprofits and businesses in central Arkansas are working to pick up the slack in the midst of a pandemic.

Stacey Bevans, Regina Doyne and Stacey Moore would normally be at work at Little Rock’s College Station Elementary, but on a recent day were outside, setting up a table full of bag lunches. Doyne, the school's resource teacher, said Gov. Asa Hutchinson's decision to close schools came as a surprise.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson listens as Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Nate Smith speaks to reporters Monday.
Governor's Office / YouTube

Arkansas has had another death from COVID-19, officials announced Monday, bringing the total in the state to seven. Department of Health Secretary Nate Smith said the person was over the age of 65 and is the first death connected to a nursing home. He said Arkansas was up to 473 positive cases, an increase of 47 from Sunday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Monday that he is allocating an additional $45 million to aid in the purchase of personal protective equipment and ventilators. An original allocation of $30 million wasn’t enough, he said.