Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced at his daily COVID-19 briefing that the special legislative session to address the $353 million revenue shortfall due to the coronavirus will begin tomorrow at 1 p.m. Based on his conversations with leaders of both the House and the Senate, Hutchinson says he feels the necessary votes are there.
In another step to help slow the spread of the virus through the state, the governor also announced the Arkansas Department of Health will soon issue a directive based on the earlier recommendation to limit gatherings to ten people or less. The directive will carry the power of law and will be enforced, Hutchinson said.
With warm, sunny conditions in the forecast, the governor and other state health officials encouraged people to get outside — but also stressed citizens to be responsible. By strictly adhering to the recommended steps to protect yourself and others, the prospect of a potential statewide shelter-in-place could lessen, Hutchison said. At this time, the governor says he’s opposed to a strict shelter-in-place order like other state governors have recently implemented.
In other news, the Arkansas Medical Board and the Arkansas Nursing Board are fast-tracking emergency temporary licensures. Medical residents who have completed one year of residency can apply. Overall, licensure of 100 new physicians have been expedited in the month of March, while the nursing board reported the licensure of 300 new nurses. Arkansas nurses who have been laid off from specialty, non-essential surgery clinics can also apply to the state board for possible referral to other medical fields that are battling the coronavirus.
Here are other bullet points from today’s briefing:
- As of 2:30 p.m., the number of positive cases in Arkansas is up from yesterday’s figure of 218 to 280 — a jump of 62 cases.
- The number of negative test results has increased to 1,437.
- There have been 11 recoveries in the state.
- The current death rate still stands at two individuals.
- Drew County and Hot Springs County have reported positive cases.
- As of last week, there were around 9,400 unemployment filings in the state. This week, the number is down a bit to around 8,700.
- Gov. Hutchinson told those making unemployment filings to be patient. The wait time on the phone is running 25 minutes, the governor said, but upgrades are in the process, and the system should soon be running smoother.
Screenshot from the Arkansas Department of Health’s COVID-19 statewide stats as of this afternoon.
The new White River Now mobile app has started featuring regular COVID-19 updates and podcasts. In addition to the updates featured on the White River Now family of radio stations, the COVID-19 podcast section also features new interviews with Sen. James Sturch, Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh, Stone County Judge Stacey Avey, and state Rep. Stu Smith. Download the free White River Now app today from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store, and keep up-to-date on all local and state coronavirus information and to listen to the streams of White River Now radio stations.
We also carry live feeds of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s COVID-19’s briefings on-air, online, and through the White River Now app on Arkansas 103.3 KWOZ and on White River Now’s Facebook page.
Get up-to-date local and regional news along with the latest sports and weather every weekday morning by listening to Gary B. on Ozark Newsline, broadcast from the First Community Bank Newsroom on Arkansas 103.3 KWOZ. White River Now updates are also aired weekday mornings on 93 KZLE, Outlaw 106.5, and 99.5 Hits Now. Have a news tip or event to promote? Email White River Now at email@example.com. Be sure to like and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Add don’t forget to download the White River Now mobile app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.