Judge receives notice of fifth positive COVID-19 test in Independence County

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Independence County has received notice of its fifth positive COVID-19 test, according to a release from County Judge Robert Griffin this afternoon. The judge said it had been around 10 days since the last notice of a positive result was received. As testing continues, there will be more positive cases found, the judge said.

“Our good news is twofold –  first, we have recovered victims free of this dreaded disease, that has kept our number reported daily by the Arkansas Department of Health under five active cases,” Griffin said in the release.

“The other good news is that we don’t seem to have a cluster of cases here, and I believe that is a result of our residents being cautious, washing hands, distancing, covering coughs, and helping one another as neighbors. If all of our people would follow the great example set by so many of you, we will continue to keep a flat curve here,” the judge said.

Griffin said that Director of Emergency Management Glen Willis is heading for more PPE from the national strategic reserves today, and the county has orders with two companies for more PPE of which the county is unsure of the arrival dates.

“There are so many efforts from so many people and I thank each one of them in their work,” he said.

On other fronts, Griffin today issued an executive order to place a hiring freeze in place for all offices and departments of Independence County unless approval is given by his office.

“As one example, I fear the road department will suffer up to a $700,000 reduction of revenues, or 17.5 percent since so much of our base budget of $4,000,000 is made up of sales tax or fuel tax-related revenues,” Griffin said. “The last seven months of receipts will be lean.”

The judge said he sought guidance from sources at the Department of Financial Administration and the association of counties, and there is not a template in these unprecedented times.

“All know there will be reduced revenues in all likelihood,” Griffin said. “The state has already cut funding and some of those cuts were from our turnback. I estimate our County General fund will see a reduction of at least $250,000, not counting court fines and other variable revenues being reduced. Outside safety and services for our citizens, fiscal responsibility is the first and foremost goal of your elected officials in Independence County. “

“I ask all citizens to continue the protective measures and we shall come through this by your strong resolve,” the judge said.

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