Arkansas Coronavirus Cases
As of June 3, Arkansas reported 8,067 confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Of these, 142 has resulted in death, and 5,717 have recovered. Pulaski County has the majority of cases with 1,003 reported and then Lincoln County had 984 for the second most confirmed cases.
Source: Arkansas Department of Health
Governor Hutchinson Announces Largest 24-hour Increase of Community Cases
On Tuesday June 2, Governor Hutchinson announced the largest 24-hour increase of community cases in Arkansas.
Hutchinson also announced the creation of the COVID-19 Latinx Stakeholder group, which is 28 members from public health, government, cities, health care, faith leaders, business, media and community members. The governor said the group began meeting in May.
The group focuses on increasing awareness and access to testing. They are working to ensure communication is translated and disseminated. The group will also share information about complaints, rumors and questions in the community.
Another responsibility of the group will involve partnering with the business community to make sure language barriers are addressed and employees are aware of prevention guidelines. The information about resources will also be shared.
Dr. Jose Romero, the interim Secretary of Health, said so far, the stakeholder group has discussed testing in hot spot areas. Romero said they are developing information videos and text in Spanish.
Governor Hutchinson also spoke Tuesday about the May state revenue report, saying the revenue is up $80 million of the revised forecast. It is 3.4% below last year. The governor said it’s extraordinarily good compared to projections. According to him, sales tax collections show people are gaining confidence in the economy again.
Hutchinson also spoke about ongoing protests across the state. He said he observed it was peaceful Monday night until about 10 p.m. The governor said some turned violent and destructive.
Hutchinson said Arkansas State Police (ASP) arrested five Arkansas residents and he expects ASP to work with Little Rock Police and be out again Tuesday night. He added that if that conduct continues, police will be prepared to make arrests as necessary.
The governor also spoke about how protesting could impact COVID-19. He said in protests in Benton County, a vast majority of participants have masks on but they are not social distancing. According to him, the protesters wearing masks set an example as to how we should take the spread of COVID-19 very seriously.
"We actually just got off a conversation with the state health department. The governor has done a great job with his administration and how he has handled this. If you are a church, there are no restrictions on how many people you can have inside as long as they follow CDC guidelines and stay six feet apart. So our position is, a public gathering is a public gathering regardless of the reason, whether you are going to go to a quilting event, a church or a concert. Tell me the difference, because in our opinion it is discriminatory."
Mike Brown, TempleLive, on their plans to hold a concert May 15
Gravesite Flags Canceled Because of Coronavirus at Arkansas State Veteran's Cemetery
The National Cemetery Association recently issued an announcement concerning the several changes to Memorial Day Commemorations for all 142 veterans affairs national cemeteries.
According to their website, they "made the difficult decision to not host public events for Memorial Day, including the mass placement and retrieval of gravesite flags by any groups. NCA relies largely on volunteers for placement and retrieval of gravesite flags for Memorial Day and these activities attract thousands of volunteers annually. Limiting the number of volunteers is not practical."
Every year, the Hubble-Delk Levy Memorial Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary post #11474 takes part in the gravesite flag tradition. They're a group that serves veterans. When president Patsy Best and several other members arrived at the cemetery Friday morning, they were told the event was cancelled.
"I think our veterans have fought for our country, they sacrifice their lives for us, several of them out here have died while they were fighting for our country, they’re special people like I said and they should be honored, we owe them," Best said.
According to the Assistant Director of Veteran Cemeteries in Arkansas, Bill Wussick, it's simply not safe to have it this year. The event attracts large groups of volunteers, and Wussick says it would be too many people in one place at a time, however families can come out on their own and individually place flags on graves.
Best feels it doesn't make sense.
"Right now, we can go to a casino, and wear a mask, and go in there and play a slot machine, so I really couldn’t understand why we couldn’t be out here this morning outside doing what we needed to do," Best said.
Best thinks it would be simple to maintain social distancing and wear a mask while putting out the flags.
"As everybody knows that comes out here every year to do this, you work in teams of two, one carrying the flags and putting the flags in the ground, and the other one making the holes," she said. "You know if you come as two then you’re together, and you could be wearing your mask and you’re still okay and you’re outside."
Number of advance unemployment claims made in Arkansas for the week ending March 21 - 8,958 Claims made the previous week - 1,382
National projected revenue loss (travel and tourism industry) - $15.6 billion
Sales of disinfectant and cleaning wipes rose by 973% and 1079% respectively compared to sales in 2019
Light vehicle sales in the United States could range between 14.5 and 16.4 million units in 2020
Arkansas' 12 community health centers are offering screenings and testing at 69 locations around the state.
Statistics provided by Statista a As of April 8
Arkansas has the lowest hospitalization rate for coronavirus patients among surrounding states: 2.5 hospitalizations per 100,000 patients
Arkansas Heart Hospital is donating 500 test kits to health workers
As of April 16 More than 150,000 people have applied for unemployment in Arkansas over the past four weeks.
As of May 7 1,682 tests have been done in Arkansas
As of May 21,there were 4,396 tests done Tuesday with a 1.9% positivity rate. The state should exceed the goal of 60,000 people tested in May. So far this month, 44,240 people have been tested in Arkansas.
As of June 4, 132 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19, which is an increase of 11. 31 people are on ventilators. 5,567 people have recovered from the virus in Arkansas. 3,807 tests have been done, with 713 of those from the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). The positivity rate is 4.4%.
Governor Says Promises 'Consequences’ If Arkansas Concert Goes Ahead
Gov. Asa Hutchinson, on May 13, warned that an Arkansas theater will face repercussions which the police might impose if it continues with its attempt to defy the state's coronavirus restrictions by staging what could be the country's first big concert so far into the pandemic.
TempleLive showed no signs of backing down from its scheduled concert by country-rock singer Travis McCready on May 15, which is three days before the state will permit indoor entertainment facilities to reopen. On Tuesday May 12, the Health Department ordered the facility to postpone or cancel the concert expected to draw at least 200 people.
The president of the venue's parent company said it was reviewing the order "and its basis under the law," while TempleLive's website continued to advertise the show as of Wednesday afternoon.
“We expect the law to be complied with. That would be disappointing and obviously that would encounter some consequences if that’s the direction they pursue," Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters.
Theaters, arenas, and other indoor entertainment venues are allowed to reopen on Monday May 18, but with an audience limit of 50 people. That restriction can be raised to one-third of the capacity of a venue, but only if it submits a plan that the state approves in advance.
The concert is setting up a showdown over restrictions on coronavirus in a state that has resisted the wider stay-at-home orders issued in most of the country.Arkansas had put more restrictions in recent days that Hutchinson has been scaling back.
TempleLive's strategy for Friday's event involves restricting the number of people in the former Masonic temple to 229 in the 1,100-person room. Patrons will also need to wear masks and have their temperatures tested at the entrance.
TempleLive officials complained they were being treated unfairly, noting that the state had not shut down churches as part of its restrictions on coronaviruses.
“We're not trying to be difficult," Mike Brown, a TempleLive representative, said in a video posted on the venue's Facebook page. “We just want to be treated fairly."
Hutchinson declined to specify what steps the state would take if organizers were to move forward with Friday's show, but he said that they could use local police. He added that he hoped "the common sense will prevail.