Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced a $116 million initiative at his COVID-19 press briefing this afternoon targeting the possible looming crisis for rural hospitals and other health care providers. The majority of the funds, around $90 million, will come from the federal government.
Some key points of the plan include:
- Additional payments of $1,000 per month to support for non-physician direct care workers, mainly nurses, and additional payments of $2,000 a month for the same type of health care worker employed by facilities treating a number of COVID-19 patients.
- Financial support via capital improvement payments to certain hospitals, rural health clinics, behavioral health agencies, and independent physicians for environmental modifications such as drive-thru testing and isolation areas.
- Financial support for workforce safety training for health care providers caring for patients where it is necessary to have face-to-face services.
- And an expansion of support and training for telemedicine services.
The governor said the initiative will go a “long way” to help stabilize the entire health care system of Arkansas.
Officials also announced “large purchases” of personal protective equipment (PPE) through state resources which include orders of:
- Three million N95 masks.
- Four million surgical masks.
- Four million disposable gowns.
- Just over 2 million face shields.
- And seven million gloves.
The orders are expected to start coming in by the weekend. The Arkansas Department of Health and the state’s Department of Emergency Management will determine the allocation of the PPE.
Hutchinson also stressed for citizens “do the right thing” and continue to follow the recommended steps to protect yourself and others.
Here are other bullet points from today’s briefing:
- As of this afternoon, the number of positive cases in Arkansas is up from yesterday’s figure of 280 to 335 — a jump of 55 cases. Yesterday’s jump in positive cases was 62.
- The number of negative test results has increased to 1,504.
- The governor estimated that at the peak of the virus in the state, 1,000 could possibly be hospitalized across Arkansas.
- There has been one more death, in central Arkansas, which now brings the statewide total to three. (The chart below from the Arkansas Department of Health has not yet been updated to reflect the death.)
- There have been 13 recoveries in the state.
- And out of a total 1,839 tests across the state, the number of negative test results is up to 1,504
Screenshot from the Arkansas Department of Health’s COVID-19 statewide stats as of this afternoon. There has been one more confirmed death since this was posted.
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.
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