Waters of White Hall Nursing Home was one of the 62 additional positive COVID-19 cases bringing the total number of positive cases in Arkansas to 280. Last week health officials reported positive COVID-19 cases at Apple Creek Nursing and Rehab in Centerton, The Villages of General Baptist West in Pine Bluff and Briarwood Nursing Home and Rehab in Little Rock.

Waters of White Hall Nursing Home was one of the 62 additional positive COVID-19 cases bringing the total number of positive cases in Arkansas to 280. Last week health officials reported positive COVID-19 cases at Apple Creek Nursing and Rehab in Centerton, The Villages of General Baptist West in Pine Bluff and Briarwood Nursing Home and Rehab in Little Rock.
According to Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith during Governor Asa Hutchinson's daily COVID-19 update Wednesday afternoon, the Waters of White Hall case is associated with the JRMC case. Smith said health officials will conduct the same investigation as they have with the other nursing homes to make sure staff wasn't infected and there are no additional cases.
"We will continue to prioritize healthcare workers, hospitalize patients who are acutely ill and those 65 and older and those with underlying medical conditions who have symptoms and of course nursing home residents and staff, especially in ones where there has already been a positive case," said Smith.
Smith reported cases included 13 children (0-18), 95 seniors (ages 65 and up), and 173 adults (19-65).
Out of those cases, 41 were in nursing homes, 12 are hospitalized and four are on ventilators. There have been two deaths, one person in their 50s and the other greater than 80. Eleven recoveries were also reported.
Due to the dire need the state is in, Hutchinson said the Arkansas Medical Board had expedited the licenses for medical and healthcare professionals.
"We are very grateful for our doctors, nurses, lab technicians who are all on the front line of this fight," said Hutchinson. "They are there every day but as you look at how long this might extend there is going to be fatigue. There is going to be some of those healthcare professionals that might have to isolate for their own health need because they've had a positive test and so there is going to be a shortages."
Hutchinson said the expedited licenses will allow physicians and nurses who have completed their 1-year internship to fill the gap that they expect to come in the coming weeks and months. Fees will also be waived. So far over 100 new physicians have been licensed in the month of march and 300 nurses according to Hutchinson
During Hutchinson's address to the public he stressed the importance of social gatherings to 10 or less people and said he will be issuing a directive in that matter.
"I've heard while many Arkansans are abiding by that very carefully there are some exceptions to that and those exceptions can endanger what we are trying to do in getting a handle on this crisis," said Hutchinson.
Hutchinson added an enforcement component would be allowed with the directive.
"This is not a heavy handed part of the law," said Hutchinson. "This just gives us the ability to say you all need to disperse, this is not consistent with the public health directives."
Smith adds there is a potential when in a public space, someone may be infected and may not even know that they are.
"They may not have signs and symptoms," said Smith. "At this point to assume that at any public place there is the potential for COVID-19 transmission, we need to take those personal precautions."
Smith said keeping a six foot distance, washing your hands, avoiding contact with someone who is visibly ill and staying away from people if you have symptoms, will protect communities and slow down the spread of COVID-19.
Hutchinson reported over 9,000 unemployment claims were filed last week and 8,000 so far had been claimed this week.
"Those who are filing these claims be patient," said Hutchinson. "This volume of claims is unprecedented in our history and in any economic time. We are processing them as quickly as we can."
Colonel Nate Todd with the Department of Veterans Affairs said the VA has the testing capability if a veteran meets the screening criteria for COVID-19 testing.
"My goal of these updates is to let everyone know the challenge that we face but also know what we are doing as a state to address those and a plan for those," said Hutchinson.
Hutchinson said the insight is that everyone is a part of the journey.
"You are living it every day and we want you to understand the ups and downs that we go through and our leadership team rather it is pursing personal protection equipment, testing challenges or rather it is reporting the results of the testing," said Hutchinson. "We want you to be a part of the journey through these updates."