Despite a growing number of states that have issued shelter-in-place orders, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said again at his Thursday statewide briefing that there are no immediate plans to issue such an order in Arkansas.
Hutchinson and his team are basing this decision on a number of factors, including:
- The state is below projections of COVID-19 cases. Two weeks ago, state projections called for 3,500 positive cases by mid-April, yet as of today, Arkansas has 400 cases less than what state projections called for this date. (Of course, COVID-19 testing in-state has been limited.)
- The state’s targeted response to the coronavirus.
- Hutchinson also noted that even if a shelter-in-place order was enacted, there are lots of workers at essential businesses that would still be working throughout the order. He told reporters today that if an order was issued, hundreds of thousands of Arkansans would still be going to work, but around 100,000 workers would be out of a job. In California, which has shelter-in-place orders, one-million people still leave home for work every day.
- Essential businesses that would still be open during a shelter-in-place would include grocery stores, certain manufacturers, banks, laundry services, hardware stores, and others.
- And Health Director Dr. Nate Smith said there is no compelling evidence that stay-at-home orders are effective in states such as Arkansas because the state doesn’t have the population density of other states.
When asked about the large state unemployment numbers, Hutchinson said that Arkansas has just touched the surface in those numbers, but he said the state has a “robust and strong” unemployment insurance fund and federal assistance will also be available.
In other news from Thursday’s briefing:
- There have been two new deaths as of Thursday afternoon. One victim was a nursing home patient. The total coronavirus-related deaths in Arkansas is now 12. Eight of those deaths were individuals age 65 or up while the other four were in the 18-64 range.
- The number of positive cases in Arkansas is now at 643, up 59 from Wednesday’s figures.
- Four new counties have recorded positive cases.
- Ninety-one positive cases are health care workers. That number is up from Wednesday by seven. There are 20 positive cases in children; 183 cases in individuals 65 years old or up; and 440 cases in the 18-64 age range.
- Fifty-one nursing home residents are positive while 24 of the 91 health care workers are nursing home staff members that have tested positive at this point.
- There have been 47 recoveries, up five from Wednesday.
- There has been progress on acquiring reagents for test processing, and the state has received 70 percent of the requested PPE from the National Strategic Stockpile.
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, on White River Now’s Facebook page, and through the White River Now app on Arkansas 103.3 KWOZ.
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