Arkansas to relax some restrictions on out-of-state travelers; inmate cases to likely increase


At today’s statewide COVID-19 briefing, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said restrictions will be lifted for out-of-state recreational travelers to Arkansas except for those traveling from U.S hotspots, such as New York, New Orleans, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

The state can adjust the “hotspots” accordingly should out of state outbreaks spike elsewhere.

Stacy Hurst (pictured above), with the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism said this will be welcome news to the hotel and lodging industry in Arkansas, adding that strong protocols to protect guests and staff will be required.

Gov. Hutchinson said it’s up to the federal government to decide when the Buffalo National River reopens. And since it is under federal guardianship, when it does reopen, it will allow all out-of-state travelers.

Also at the Tuesday briefing, Hutchinson announced an executive order that extends the initial COVID-19 emergency order for an additional 45 days. The governor said the state is not yet finished with its work, and there is still an emergency situation across Arkansas. The original executive order was set to expire on May 21. The 45-day extension will begin after that date. All directives remain in effect as long a public emergency order is in effect.

Officials noted that while state trajectories in the categories are trending downward, Arkansas will likely see a spike of new positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the near future because of the situation at correctional facilities.

At Cummins State Prison Barracks, 876 inmates have tested positive, however some cases have been reported in barracks that have been isolated from the positive cases. And at the correctional facility at Forrest City, there are 264 inmates testing positive. But state officials say that number will most certainly see an increase soon. The governor reported the Centers for Disease Control has boosted its testing at the federal facility in recent days, so more than 90 new positive cases are expected to be reported within the next week.


Other stats from the Tuesday afternoon briefing:

  • The governor reported that restrictions on lap pools are lifted, but recreational pools are still closed while guidelines and directives are still being considered.
  • There are currently 3,496 people testing positive in the state. That’s up 38 from Monday.
  • The total number of deaths increased two since Monday for a total of 83.
  • There have been 2,050 recoveries.
  • Eighty-nine are hospitalized with issues related to the coronavirus.
  • Sixteen individuals are on a ventilator.
  • There are currently 261 nursing home residents and 148 nursing home staff members that have tested positive.


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.

Layout 1

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.


Leave a Reply