Gary B.: Federal $11 billion investment in expanding testing will help state in COVID-19 fight


The federal government has put $11 billion into expanding COVID-19 testing, and Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he wants 60,000 tests processed this month (May, 2020.)

Testing that provides reliable data is key to decision-making during this crisis, state officials say. At a recent press briefing, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said 1,500 tests were completed on Saturday while approximately 1,200 were completed on Sunday. Doing the math tells us that 1,200 to 1,500 tests a day will not provide 60,000 tests through May 31. 

However, many hospitals and medical providers have received test packets and have geared themselves to providing more testing. Experts say that data becomes more reliable and helpful when the testing reflects a higher percentage of the population.  

Arkansas’s 2020 population is estimated to be around 3.03 million. Ten percent of that is approximately 300,000. If the state could reach that test number, it could give us valuable information about many aspects of the COVID-19 situation in the state.

And, as more public testing is done, the process will most certainly yield more positive test results.

The White River Medical Center in Batesville is one hospital helping to ensure the safety of its patients through thorough staff testing. A spokesperson told White River Now the hospital tests its medical staff and other employees on a regular basis, knowing the hospital must keep its staff and patients as healthy and safe as possible. 

The spokesperson said if the hospital were to have a healthcare provider or other staff member test positive, in addition to treatment, a strict set of “follow-up” rules would come into play. Containment requires isolation or separation from others not infected, obtaining information on how the person came into contact with the virus, and who the infected person came into contact with before he/she wad tested. “Contact follow-up” is very important. It can help contain a situation that could otherwise spread, and in all probability, spread rapidly. 

So who should be tested? 

If you have not been feeling well, you may wonder if you have COVID-19. There isn’t a treatment for COVID-19, so if your symptoms are mild, your doctor will likely tell you to recover at home, stay away from others, and stay in contact with your doctor’s office. If you do not have a family or personal doctor, call your local hospital, health department, or another healthcare provider.

President Trump said he would like to see complete testing in long-term health care facilities. Here is a priority list for testing that might serve us well:

  1. Nursing home patients and staff
  2. People admitted to the hospital
  3. People who work in a health care facility
  4. First responders
  5. Detention center inmates
  6. Other people who have COVID-19 symptoms
  7. People who don’t have symptoms, but are deemed a priority by local health departments or doctors

Your doctor or another health care professional will tell you where to go for a test. 

Health care professionals say symptoms may include:

  1. A dry cough
  2. Shortness of breath or perhaps, difficulty breathing
  3. Fever
  4. Chills
  5. Headache
  6. Sore throat
  7. New loss of taste or smell
  8. Fatigue
  9. Loss of appetite
  10. Nausea
  11. Diarrhea

Two or more of those symptoms could be calling for a COVID-19 test. Your best move at this stage is to contact your doctor or another health care provider and follow their instructions.

White River Now News Team

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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