At Saturday afternoon’s statewide COVID-19 briefing, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and other officials stressed the continued importance of practicing social distancing and following similar recommended guidelines, saying the state’s targeted response is having a positive effect on combating the spread of the virus in Arkansas.
The governor noted this morning someone sent him a picture of a deserted downtown Eureka Springs, that on a normal day, would be full of people. Hutchinson also noted that while it’s positive from a health standpoint that Arkansans are staying inside, the desolate streets are also an example of the economic strain the coronavirus is having on the state.
Officials also stood by the recent CDC recommendation on wearing masks in public settings if someone is going to a store or public place where it’s difficult to maintain the proper six-foot social distancing. Health Director Dr. Nate Smith did note masks are not much help in protecting the person wearing the mask, but they can be effective in capturing droplets that can be spread to other people.
The governor also lauded businesses that are being aggressive in following the practice of social distancing by limiting the number of people in the business, maintaining six feet of distance between those in line, offering contactless payment, and utilizing other measures to help stop the spread.
Hutchinson also announced he has signed an executive order that limits hotels, motels, and short-term rentals from issuing occupancy to out-of-state recreational travelers.
Other bullet points from the briefing:
- There have been two new deaths related to COVID-19. Both victims were over the age of 65. The total number of Arkansans dead from coronavirus complications is now 14. Ten victims were 65 or older while the remaining four were between the ages of 18-64.
- The number of positive cases now stands at 743, up 39 from Friday. Testing is also accelerating with over 1,000 more tests processed over the past 24 hours.
- The number of health care workers with positive results stands at 106, up 10 from Friday.
- Three new counties were added to the list of those with positive cases: Lafayette, Dallas, and Prarie.
- Eighty state bridge loans were approved this week, providing $1.7 million in immediate relief for small businesses across the state. Unemployment claims were around 66,000.
- There have been three inmates and three staff members that have tested positive at the federal prison in Forrest City.
- Lorie Tudor with ArDOT, the Arkansas Department of Transportation, reported there had been a 40 percent reduction in travel since the emergency started. It was another indication that a good portion of Arkansans are staying home and limiting the potential spread of COVID-19, officials said.
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.
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.