Out of the 1,065 active cases in Arkansas, 23 patients are on ventilators, and on Sunday, a medical provider from Jefferson Regional Medical Center had reportedly died. JRMC was the site of the first confirmed positive Covid-19 case on March 11,
Arkansas is still on the upswing of positive COVID-19 cases as numbers increase to 1,695 with 1,065 of those cases active.
During Governor Asa Hutchinson’s COVID-19 press conference Friday, an additional 83 positive COVID-19 cases were reported, not included in the state’s total, to Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Nate Smith from the Little Rock VA hospital who tested inmates at Cummins Unit.
Cummins Unit now has 129 positive cases with plans to test everyone with or without coronavirus symptoms.
Out of the 1,065 active cases, 23 patients are on ventilators.
Smith adds the number of cases are distorted by the recent jail outbreaks but hopes to see a downward trend by May. Smith said testing will now be made to all symptomatic patients as well as contact tracing for every new positive.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump unveiled Guidelines for opening up America again, a three-phased approach based on the advice of public health experts.
These steps are meant to help state and local officials when reopening their economies, getting people back to work, and continuing to protect American lives.
Hutchinson said this will be the commonality to start with as he hopes to gradually relax some of the directives in the state of Arkansas by May 4.
The Proposes State or Regional Gating Criteria, directed by the White House, involves satisfying three topics before proceeding to phase one of the three comeback plans.
Symptoms must have a downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) reported within a 14-day period and a downward trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period.
Cases must have a downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period or downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period (flat or increasing volume of tests).
Lastly, hospitals must be able to treat all patients without crisis care and have a robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing.
One a state or region satisfies that criteria they may move into phase 1.
For individuals, that means when in public (e.g., parks, outdoor recreation areas, shopping areas), everyone should maximize physical distance from each other. Social settings of more than 10 people, where appropriate distancing may not be practical, should be avoided unless precautionary measures are observed.
Also individuals should avoid socializing in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing (e.g., receptions, trade shows) and minimize non-essential travel and adhere to CDC guidelines regarding isolation following travel.
For employers, in phase one, they are encouraged to telework whenever possible and feasible with business operations, return to work in phases and close common areas where personnel are likely to congregate and interact, enforcing strict social distancing protocols.
For specific types of employers certain directives are given to them in phase one.
Schools and youth activities (e.g., daycare, camp) that are currently closed should remain closed.
Visits to senior living facilities and hospitals should be prohibited. Those who do interact with residents and patients must adhere to strict protocols regarding hygiene.
Large venues (e.g., sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, places of worship) can operate under strict physical distancing protocols.
Elective surgeries can resume, as clinically appropriate, on an outpatient basis at facilities that adhere to CMS guidelines.
Gyms can open if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols but bars should remain closed.
Hutchinson said by May 4, phase one is where he wants Arkansas to be but Arkansans will have to continue to adhere to the directives and guidelines recommended by CDC and ADH.
“Arkansas meets some of the criteria,” said Smith.
Until Arkansas meets every standard expected, Smith said it is important that everyone social distance, wear masks in public settings, wash your hands and no large gatherings.
“Think about the people in your lives who we really need to protect from COVID-19,” said Smith. “Draw motivation from that to abide by the directives.”
As directives and guidelines are being followed economic hardships are hitting the state. According to Hutchinson, $35 million will be lost that the states usually receives from the casino and state highway funding will be down also.
Jefferson County is also seeing its fair share of decrease in revenue with businesses having to shut down, resulting in job loss for thousands.
According to a release from Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington, the city of Pine Bluff has enacted a hiring and spending freeze in response to these economic concerns. Only essential positions will be filled if vacancies occur, and spending is limited to essential purchases that are required for daily operations.
“At this time, neither the city nor Jefferson County foresees any disruption to major projects that have been allotted funding prior to the pandemic,” read the release. “However, due to the ongoing challenges of this pandemic, which could extend through the summer, the city and Jefferson County will assess the need for additional spending reductions.”
The release goes on to say that this may include employee furloughs and the city and county will continue to monitor their monthly revenue streams as their budgets are managed.
The Coronavirus Relief Fund has provided Arkansas $1.25 billion to help state and local governments pay for the costs of this health crisis according to the release from the Mayor’s office.
“While we enter uncharted water, it is critical to the well-being of our citizens that our cities, towns and counties are provided with the funds needed to continue to battle this virus while maintaining the expected, essential services,” said Washington in her release. “Arkansans need their municipal and county governments now more than ever during these unprecedented times. It is crucial that we, the leaders of local government, step up to the plate to face the enormity of this crisis and stand up for the resources we realistically need.”