COVID-19 update: $10 million to rural hospitals, new task force to oversee gradual lifting of restrictions


With a target of May 4 as the date to potentially begin lifting some coronavirus-related restrictions throughout the state, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced today the formation of a new task force to help oversee the process.

Led by businessman and Walmart heir Steuart Walton as chairman, the Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force will be comprised of 26 to 27 members representing different fields of the state’s economy, Hutchinson told reporters at today’s COVID-19 briefing.

The task force is expected to begin making recommendations to the governor as well as state industry groups relating to reopening and expanding the economy in a safe and responsible manner that also gives the public confidence. The group is expected to start meeting next week.

Hutchinson also announced $10 million will be distributed to rural hospitals throughout Arkansas that are struggling with the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The money will go to 27 different hospitals in Arkansas and will come from an Arkansas Community Development Block Grant. In addition, UAMS will receive $500,000 to help expand telemedicine in rural areas

In other news from the Saturday briefing:

  • There have been an additional 44 positive cases since Friday, bringing the total to 1,739.
  • There has been one new death reported. There have now been 38 deaths related to the coronavirus officially recorded in Arkansas. The new victim was over the age of 65.
  • Officials report the number of recoveries stands at 703 — that’s 110 more than Friday.
  • Hospitalizations are down seven since Friday. Total hospitalizations today: 86.
  • And a large round of testing continues at prisons and other similar facilities throughout Arkansas. Officials expect more positive cases in congregant settings as testing moves forward, and that, they say, will likely skew the positive numbers in the days ahead


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 Stone County Judge Stacey Avey, Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh, Independence County Judge Robert Griffin, state Sen. Stu Smith, and state Sen. James Sturch. Download the free White River Now mobile 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 at Arkansas 103.3, online at White River Now’s Facebook page, and through the Arkansas 103.3 stream on the White River Now mobile app on Arkansas 103.3.

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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. 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 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.



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