Gradual reopening of state parks starts Friday for Arkansas residents

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At today’s statewide COVID-19 briefing, Gov. Asa Hutchinson was joined by Stacy Hurst. secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, to announce a gradual reopening of Arkansas State Parks to overnight campers beginning Friday, May 1.

The parks will only be accepting in-state residents utilizing self-contained RVs. No bath houses will be open, and park staff will be keeping a safe social distance as visitors will be expected to do as well, Hurst said. Contactless check-ins and check-outs will also be implemented.

More restrictions will be lifted on May 15 when Arkansas State Parks restaurants; food service; museums and exhibits; visitor centers; retail and gift shops; golf pro shops; and marinas will open to limited capacity. And the state parks will permit all RVs, open use cabins, lodges, and other overnight rentals to Arkansas travelers Fridays through Mondays.

Hurst also noted the high-use trails will remain closed with their status regularly reviewed.

In other news from Tuesday’s briefing, officials said in May, two percent of Arkansas will have been tested. As more tests expand, Hutchinson said we should see an increase in positive tests and hospitalizations. Still, the governor said as he and health officials go through the state data, he’s pleased with the overall trajectory and is comfortable with hospital capacity and contact tracing.

More briefing notes:

  • There are currently 2,111 positive cases in the state. That’s seventy-four more civilians throughout the state and 20 more inmates than Monday at the Cummins State Prison Barracks. (Currently, there are a total of 911 infected at Cummins.)
  • In terms of recoveries, officials noted there have been 1,146 — 139 more than Monday.
  • Two more deaths have been reported since Monday, bringing the total number to 52.
  • There are 208 nursing home patients that have tested positive along with 115 nursing home staff members.
  • One hundred and four are hospitalized. Twenty patients are on ventilators — that’s a decline of five since Monday.
  • And Hutchinson noted an announcement regarding restaurants will be made at tomorrow’s briefing.

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