Arkansas COVID-19

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

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.

Arkansas Unemployment
Stock Photo

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.

A sign language interpreter, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Nate Smith at Sunday's press briefing.
Governor's Office / YouTube

The number of coronavirus deaths in Arkansas has risen by one to six and the number of cases is at least 426, up from 404.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said Sunday that it is encouraging that the number of cases in the state is not rising as rapidly as in some parts of the country, such as New York City, but residents must continue doing things such as social distancing and limiting travel.

Hutchinson said the number of hospitalizations due to the virus dropped from 48 on Saturday to 43 on Sunday.

Governor's Office / YouTube

The number of COVID-19 deaths in Arkansas rose from three to five as of Saturday, with Gov. Asa Hutchinson expressing frustration about supply chain issues that are limiting testing for the pandemic that continues to spread globally. He also said the number of weekly jobless applications in the past week totaled more than 30,000, which followed about 9,400 applications in the prior week.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signs legislation creating COVID-19 Rainy Day Fund into law just before 1 a.m. Saturday.
Governor's Office / YouTube

The first extraordinary session of the 92nd General Assembly was rather ordinary in its business, but extraordinary in its setting.

Arkansas lawmakers wrapped up a three-day special session to create a COVID-19 Rainy Day Fund. The funding mechanism will collect money from a variety of surplus and discretionary state accounts and be available to handle special money from the federal government, if necessary.

Nate Smith COVID-19 Asa Hutchinson
Governor's Office / YouTube

Arkansas was up to 384 positive cases of coronavirus as of 5 p.m. Friday, according to the state Department of Health. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during an afternoon press briefing that projections suggest that number could increase to 2,000 cases by next weekend and 3,500 in two weeks.

"This is modeling that’s based upon what’s happened in other states, what the experts tell us. It doesn’t mean it has to happen in Arkansas, but those are the kinds of projections that we’re trying to anticipate," Hutchinson said.

Arkansas State Capitol
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

The Arkansas Senate spent its first day of the special session debating and not passing an amendment to a bill that establishes a COVID-19 rainy day fund for the state.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and individual healthcare workers can expect a total of $116.3 million in payments to help with screening and care of coronavirus patients.

Hutchinson announced the funds Thursday at the State Capitol, saying a third person in the state has died from COVID-19 as the total number of cases in Arkansas rises to 335. As of 5 p.m. Thursday, that number had risen to 349.

Nate Smith COVID-19
Governor's Office / YouTube

Seeming frustrated by reports that some people in Arkansas are not abiding by social distancing recommendations, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday he is issuing a directive that will give law enforcement the power to enforce limits on gatherings.

The state has recommended people avoid indoor social gatherings of more than 10 people and keep a distance of six feet between one another during the current health crisis.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. says police can now issue citations to people caught breaking the city's extended overnight curfew from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. This comes as the city also institutes a daytime curfew for minors from 9:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. in an effort to promote social distancing amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking to reporters after a special meeting of the city Board of Directors Wednesday, Scott said there are some exceptions for the daytime curfew.

Jack Stephens Center
UA Little Rock

Arkansas legislative leaders are polling support for a single piece of legislation for a special session that would begin Thursday to fill budget holes caused by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 coronavirus. During that special session, the House of Representatives will meet at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Jack Stephens Center rather than the state Capitol in order to limit close contact of legislators.

Amanda Good / Humane Society

Arkansans with pets could face additional dilemmas as the coronavirus continues to spread, including whether a trip to the veterinarian is necessary.

Dr. Eric Jayne is the medical director for Spay Arkansas and a veterinarian. He says the American Veterinary Medical Association has sent out recommendations for veterinarians to follow. One of those recommendations is to suspend non-essential services such as dental check-up, spay and neuter services or other appointments that could wait.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Arkansas has experienced its first deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday that two people had died, while the number of positive cases in the state has risen to 218. Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith would not provide details on how the two people who died might have acquired the virus, but said neither had traveled out of state recently and neither were from nursing homes.

Hutchinson COVID-19 coronavirus
Governor's Office / YouTube

Arkansas has had its first deaths from the coronavirus outbreak.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday announced two people have died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Stock Photo

As the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to rise, those involved with political petitions are finding it difficult to gather signatures.

According to the 2020 Initiatives and Referenda handbook from the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office, a total of 89,151 signatures are needed for a petition proposing a constitutional amendment. Furthermore, said signatures must come from 15 counties in Arkansas and be completely turned in by July 3.

Nate Smith
Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says the state will face a $353 million budget shortfall over the next three months as it postpones the state individual income tax filing deadline to July 15.

Hutchinson announced the postponement at a press briefing Monday, where he said the number of coronavirus cases in Arkansas has grown to 174. Hutchinson said he would call a special session of the state legislature to deal with the expected loss in state revenue.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (at the podium) announcing Sunday that the number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas had risen to 165.
Governor's Office / YouTube

165 people in Arkansas have tested positive for COVID-19, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Sunday, an increase of 47 cases from Saturday. With testing being expanded this week, officials are warning the number will continue to rise.

44 of the cases involved people at three nursing homes in the state, according to Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith. Seniors and people with underlying health conditions are most at risk from the virus.

French Hill
Talk Business & Politics

While Congress has already taken steps to address the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, said more help will be on the way.