Arkansas COVID-19

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

Arkansas Unemployment
Stock Photo

One in 10 Arkansans are currently unemployed as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the state’s economy. 

According to the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, Arkansas’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 5% in March to 10.2% in April.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Arkansas has seen the largest single-day increase in new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began as three more deaths from COVID-19 brings the state’s death toll to 110.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Thursday the state saw 455 new positive test results for the virus, bringing the total number of people who have ever tested positive to 5,458.

Speaking in his daily briefing on the pandemic, Hutchinson said he would not reinstate business restrictions because of the increase.

Arkansas Department of Health / Facebook

Five more Arkansans have died from the disease caused by the coronavirus as the state’s total number of cases reaches 5,003.

Officials with the Arkansas Department of Health on Wednesday said four nursing home residents were among the state’s latest COVID-19 deaths, while 1,044 cases remain active.

Speaking during a press briefing at the Health Department, Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith said Wednesday’s increase of 80 new cases was dispersed fairly evenly across the state.

UAMS covid-19 coronavirus
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansans seeking a test for COVID-19 now have more options to find one as the Arkansas Department of Health has expanded its testing ability to its Local Health Units, located across the state.

The expansion, which began on Monday, means testing is now available at around 70 of the state’s local health units. The list of health units providing testing can be found here.

Governor's Office / YouTube

The number of new coronavirus cases in Arkansas communities has increased for a fourth consecutive day as the state nears 5,000 people who have tested positive.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday that Arkansas saw two new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the state’s death toll to 102, while the total number of coronavirus cases has risen to 4,923.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says the last businesses still closed due to the coronavirus pandemic can soon reopen even as the number of deaths from COVID-19 in Arkansas reached 100 on Monday.

This comes as Hutchinson says the Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing a possible security breach of the state’s online system for self-employed Arkansans to file for unemployment benefits.

Participants in this month's Arkansas 2020 Complete Count Committee meeting discussed efforts being done in different regions of the state to encourage participation in this year's census.
Arkansas Citizens Access Network

As COVID-19 has disrupted plans and normalcy for workplaces, schools and public life over the last few months, it also brought a halt to long-discussed outreach efforts in Arkansas for the U.S. Census. But as businesses reopen, so too resumes a campaign to get residents to participate.

In 2019, Gov. Asa Hutchinson created the 2020 Complete Count Committee in an effort to maximize the accuracy this year. The committee, chaired by Fort Smith Mayor George McGill, is working to increase awareness of the census across the state.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Officials say a state program that was created to process unemployment applications in Arkansas for self-employed individuals or gig economy workers appears to have been illegally accessed and has been shut down.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Saturday an applicant for the program is believed to have somehow accessed the system, prompting an investigation of a possible data breach. The probe will determine if any personal data from applicants was obtained.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Nearly all retail businesses forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic can reopen by Monday as the number of people testing positive in Arkansas continues to rise.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Friday the state has a total of 4,463 coronavirus cases, an increase of 97 new cases since Thursday. The state’s death toll from COVID-19 remained unchanged Friday at 98.

Rock Region Metro transit buses CAT central arkansas transit
David Monteith / KUAR News

As Arkansas continues to roll back its prior restrictions on businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic, Rock Region Metro is preparing for an increase in ridership as people return to the workplace.

Since March, Little Rock’s public transportation service has modified both its routes and its policies in response to COVID-19, such as the temporary suspension of certain bus routes.

Governor's Office / YouTube

The number of new coronavirus cases and people hospitalized with COVID-19 has risen for a second day in Arkansas as the state nears 100 deaths from the disease.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced an increase of 130 new cases Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 4,366. One additional death from COVID-19 brought the state’s death toll to 98.

Speaking in his daily briefing on the pandemic, Hutchinson said businesses in the state are not yet ready to enter a second phase of reopening.

Lance Beaty has decided to comply with Arkansas’ cease and desist order mandating he cancel a concert Friday at his TempleLive venue in downtown Fort Smith. The Travis McCready concert is set three days before a May 18 date that allows events in indoor venues.

Beaty, owner of Beaty Capital Group which owns and manages TempleLive, had said the state’s decision was based on politics and power and not science. During at 1 p.m. Thursday press conference, TempleLive spokesman Mike Brown said the concert would be moved to May 18 “against our will.”

Governor's Office / YouTube

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says Arkansas does not need additional federal funding to lessen the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the state’s economy.

This comes as the number of coronavirus cases rose by 72 Wednesday for a total of 4,236, while two more COVID-19 deaths brought the state’s total to 97.

Speaking in his daily briefing on the outbreak, Hutchinson said the $1.25 billion the state has received from the federal CARES Act is enough to bridge an expected loss in state revenue of over $200 million.

Talk Business & Politics

The South Central Telehealth Resource Center has received over $800,000 in federal funding to expand its efforts in telehealth education.

The center, housed at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, but a part of the National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers, received $825,000 from the Health Resources and Services Administration as a part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relieve and Economic Security or CARES Act. 

Department of Parks, Heritage & Tourism

A cease and desist order is being sent to TempleLive in Fort Smith to stop a May 15 concert planned at the venue, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday. The event is scheduled ahead of the allowed date of May 18 for the limited opening of indoor venues, and the governor said a business can’t “arbitrarily determine” a reopening.

Lance Beaty, owner of Beaty Capital Group which owns and manages TempleLive, told Talk Business & Politics he is disappointed in the decision.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says a lack of coronavirus testing at a federal prison is to blame for a sharp uptick in new cases in eastern Arkansas.

Speaking at his daily briefing Tuesday, Hutchinson announced 121 more people have tested positive for the virus in the state, bringing the total to 4,164. Another person has died, he said, with the death toll now at 95.

Arkansas Poultry Workers: ‘We’re Not Essential, We’re Expendable’

May 12, 2020
Matt White

This is the latest in a series of reports by the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network.

The chickens are killed so close to her that the blood splatters on her face. “They give us face masks, but they only give us one a day,” she said. “But they are live animals, and there is blood.” Though her face mask is quickly soaked, she must continue with her shift.

Mark Abernathy Loca Luna
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas restaurants were allowed to begin reopening for dine-in service Monday, but many are waiting until they feel more comfortable letting patrons back in during the coronavirus outbreak. Some also said that with already thin profit margins, it doesn’t make sense from a business perspective to reopen.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Restaurants in Arkansas are welcoming a limited number of patrons back to their dining rooms as over 4,000 people in the state have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Monday the state has seen a total of 4,043 people test positive for the virus, while 94 have died from COVID-19. The totals reflect an increase of three deaths over the weekend, and 59 new cases since Saturday.

Talk Business & Politics

Stacy Hurst, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, says the plans that are in motion to re-open casinos, restaurants, parks and large venues are  moving cautiously forward.

Appearing on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, Hurst said the state’s three casinos have outlined new protocols to keep gamblers safe as Arkansas eases restrictions on businesses in the wake of COVID-19.

Governor's Office / YouTube

The state legislature has approved new funding for grants to small businesses and direct payments to healthcare workers in Arkansas. This comes as the number of people testing positive for the coronavirus rose by 82 Friday, bringing the state’s total to 3,747.

Speaking during his daily press briefing, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said lawmakers approved funding for bonus payments to non-physician direct care workers in hospitals, as well as healthcare workers who don’t have contact with patients.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Arkansas continues to see the number of new coronavirus cases rising each day as the state nears 90 deaths from COVID-19.

Speaking with reporters in Texarkana Thursday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state added 97 new positive cases, with 30 of those coming from prisons in the state. In total, the state has 3,665 coronavirus cases with three additional COVID-19 deaths bringing the death toll to 88.

Almost one year since the opening of the first dispensary in the state, Arkansans are continuing to buy medical marijuana, with some dispensaries reporting record sales over the past few weeks.

According to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, approximately 11,000 pounds have been sold in total. Those sales amount to $73 million.

Scott Hardin, director of communications for the department, says purchasing habits of medical marijuana have changed since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Corona
U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

The coronavirus pandemic has made physical health a priority for communities across the country. While social distancing is key in the fight to control the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, decreased social contact and significant changes to everyday life bring another priority for health professionals to respond to: mental health. 

Humans are social animals and seek interactions with others. With the onset of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing guidelines, normal interactions have become more difficult.  

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson listens as Steuart Walton, chairman of the Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force, speaks to reporters during Wednesday's daily briefing.
Governor's Office / YouTube

A sixth state prison inmate from the Cummins Unit in southeast Arkansas has died of COVID-19. Dr. Nate Smith, secretary of the state Department of Health, made the announcement at Wednesday's press briefing, adding that 876 prisoners there and 54 staffers have tested positive for the virus.

Conway kindergarten teacher Randi House, who was named Arkansas Teacher of the Year in 2018, is one of five teachers hosting local AMI segments.
Arkansas PBS

With Arkansas school buildings closed because of the coronavirus outbreak, state education officials and Arkansas PBS are partnering to bring lessons to students’ homes. The Alternative Methods of Instruction program (AMI) was originally intended to be a short-term solution for things like snow days, providing packets of material for students to work on at home.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says a delayed response from the federal government is to blame for a sharp uptick in COVID-19 cases at an Arkansas prison.

This comes as a total of 3,496 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Arkansas, while 83 have died from COVID-19.

Speaking in his daily coronavirus briefing Tuesday, Hutchinson said the number of inmates and staff testing positive at the Federal Correctional Institution, Forrest City has increased by 92, for a total of 264 cases.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is allowing places of worship and large outdoor venues to reopen today as 81 people in Arkansas have died from COVID-19.

Hutchinson announced at a daily press briefing Monday the state had seen five new deaths from the disease along with a total of 3,458 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

As gyms and fitness centers also reopen Monday, and with hair salons and restaurants set to reopen by next week, Hutchinson said he does expect some new infections to result from a loosening of restrictions on businesses.

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

The Arkansas Department of Corrections says two more state prison inmates who were being treated for the coronavirus have died.

Department spokesman Solomon Graves says the cause of their deaths will be determined by medical officials, but that both inmates who died Sunday at the Cummins unit were being treated for COVID-19.

State health officials earlier confirmed the deaths of two other inmates at Cummins, where at least 860 prisoners have tested positive.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson showing a face mask with the logo for Oaklawn while noting Saturday was Derby Day 2020 at the Hot Springs racetrack.
Governor's Office / YouTube

The death toll from COVID-19 in Arkansas has risen to 73, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Saturday. Of the nine new deaths since Friday, two were state prison inmates from the Cummins Unit, which has been hard hit during the outbreak.

Dr. Nate Smith, secretary of the state Department of Health, said both men had been hospitalized, were in their 60s and had underlying health conditions. One of the prisoners had been on a ventilator.

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