At his Saturday afternoon COVID-19 briefing, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and other officials presented updated stats from the virus’s effect on Arkansas; answered some questions regarding loans and unemployment benefits; and gave an update on his large personal protective equipment (PPE) order.
Deliveries of the recent order of PPE are starting to arrive. Twenty-five percent of one major order has already been delivered. Yet, the governor noted the state is dealing with limited testing capacity and is not able to test as many individuals as they would like. Hutchinson said he is working with federal officials on assistance on this issue. Those that will be prioritized for testing include: health care workers; those in long-term care facilities; those over 65; and those with underlying health conditions.
Gov. Hutchinson said there were 30,000 new applications for unemployment insurance this week alone. There were some lags in the system, but an upgrade was recently made, and personnel will also be increased to help with the additional volume. Individuals can call (844) 908-2178, Monday through Friday. Or they can access the state’s unemployment claims website here, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Officials also noted that those self-employed and those that wouldn’t qualify for certain unemployment benefits can now apply. Small business loans are also now available during this period to help with things such as payroll, business/rent mortgage, and utilities with a certain level of forgiveness available.
And the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) also announced they’ll be receiving applications for the Quick Action Loan Guaranty Program to address the immediate needs of businesses affected by the coronavirus. The program will be administered by the AEDC in partnership with Arkansas banks. For information on the program, email COVID19.email@example.com. And Arkansas lenders participating in the program will be listed at arkansasedc.com/covid19.
In other news from Saturday’s briefing:
- As of 2 p.m. Saturday, the governor reported two more deaths from COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to five. Positive test cases have risen to 404 — up 23. And out of the 3,342 tested, negative tests are up to 2,938.
- The two new deaths included two central Arkansans — an individual in their 70s and another in their 40s. State officials noted that at least one of them had an underlying condition.
- According to Arkansas Department of Health stats, there have been 24 recoveries, up five recoveries from Friday’s ADH statistics.
- Baxter and Johnson counties have reported their first positive cases.
- Bank officials stressed that everyone’s money is safe and protected by the FDIC. Arkansas banks are open and are taking all the appropriate safety measures to continue to serve the public.
- The governor said that there are businesses in Arkansas looking for workers. “Don’t give up on work in Arkansas,” Hutchinson said.
- When asked about a “shelter-in-place” order, Gov. Hutchinson said he is still not wanting to put a halt to everything in the state.
- The governor has also declared that March 29, 2020, be a day of prayer in the state due to COVID-19.
- Hutchinson noted the state will beef up advertising and marketing to promote methods to help combat the spread coronavirus in Arkansas.
Screenshot from the Arkansas Department of Health’s COVID-19 statewide stats as of this afternoon. The statistics do not yet include the two new additional deaths since yesterday.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.