Representative Vivian Flowers, who currently resides in Pine Bluff according to her state of Arkansas House of Representative profile, was the second legislator named as a positive COVID-19 case.

A letter issued to state legislators on Thursday from the Arkansas Department of Health stated two members of the Arkansas House of Representatives had tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

During Governor Asa Hutchinson Wednesday’s press conference, it was reported that State Rep. Reginald Murdock, D-Marianna, had tested positive for COVID-19. The letter details that the two members of the Arkansas House of Representatives attended the special session and were tested earlier in the week.

Test results were received on Wednesday and according to the letter one person had not experienced symptoms of COVID-19, while the other had.

Representative Vivian Flowers, who currently resides in Pine Bluff according to her state of Arkansas House of Representative profile, was the second legislator named as a positive COVID-19 case.

“She informed the speaker last night,” said the Chief Information Officer of the Arkansas House of Representatives, Cecillea Pond-Mayo, during a phone call Thursday with the Pine Bluff Commercial.

Flowers is serving her third term in the Arkansas House. She represents District 17 which includes a portion of Jefferson County.

“I spoke to the speaker last night and he was confident the social distancing environment for the legislation session at the Stephens’s Center was smart,” said Hutchinson during Thursday’s press conference. “If anybody in that group needs to be tested I’m sure that if Dr. Smith says that’s a good idea that will be done.”

Hutchinson announced during Thursday’s press conference that the state of Arkansas numbers had climbed to 643 cases which included 20 children (ages 18 and under), 183 seniors (ages 65+) and 440 adults (ages 18-64).

Two additional deaths brought the states total to 12. One death involved a nursing home patient. Both patients who died had underlying health conditions, with one being over 65 and the other younger than 65.

Out of the state’s 12 deaths, eight of the patients were 65 and older while the others were in the 19-64 age range.

Out of the 643 cases, 66 are hospitalized, 23 are on ventilators. Ninety-one healthcare workers have tested positive with 10 being physicians, 26 nurses, 4 CNAs, with the rest a combination of licensed and unlicensed health care workers.

The total positive cases of nursing home staff is 24.

A state prison worker has tested positive according to Arkansas Department of Corrections Secretary Wendy Kelly. Kelly adds that two inmates were tested and no inmates have tested positive but a small number of prisoners are being monitored.

An issue that has come up to Hutchinson is whether Arkansas should be sheltering in place.

"If I established a stay-at-home order more than 700,000 Arkansans would get up and go to work tomorrow morning because they’re in essential industries,” said Hutchinson. “That could eventually lead to more people losing their jobs.”

Hutchinson said the state has already taken aggressive measures which exceeds some of the measures from other states. Hutchinson says the other states who are implementing a stay-at-home order are only doing an illusion of one because of all the exemptions, including essential activities.

“We are over 400 less then what we were projecting at this time so the strategy of a targeted response to this emergency virus situation in Arkansas is proven to be successful in bending the curve, lowering the apex of the curve and reducing the number of cases and hospitalizations in Arkansas,” said Hutchinson.

Hutchinson says many of the states that have initiated stay-at-home orders or shelter-in-place, they are in essence an illusion. Hutchinson said a true stay-at-home order means no one would go to work.

“If you are going to order people to stay home, that means nobody goes out,” said Hutchinson.

Hutchinson adds that stay-at-home orders are a “recipe for confusion”.