Local nursing homes in Jefferson County have fell victim to this deadly disease with the most recent nursing home deaths from the Waters of White Hall.

Nursing homes across the state have reported an outbreak of COVID-19 in their facilities. Local nursing homes in Jefferson County have fell victim to this deadly disease with the most recent nursing home deaths from the Waters of White Hall.

According to Jefferson County Coroner Chad Kelly, a male in his late 90s of the nursing home passed away at JRMC on Sunday. Early Wednesday morning a female in her late 90s from the same nursing home passed away due to COVD-19.

Starting June 1, all nursing home residents and staff will be tested for COVID-19 according to Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.

During Tuesday’s press conference, Hutchinson said he believed a rapid and aggressive response for testing was the best way to reduce the spread and save lives.

Hutchinson thanked the nursing home staff and residents, sympathizing with the tough times they were all having to endure.

“Whenever you restrict the visitors to our nursing home my heart goes out to those residents,” said Hutchinson.

Up to 50,000 additional tests will be administered. Hutchinson said the additional testing will better protect nursing home residents and staff.

"It'll give confidence to our staff, our residents, that we're doing everything we can to make sure that there is no spread and contagion in these facilities,” said Hutchinson.

As of Tuesday when the announcement was made, there was a cumulative total of 325 positive nursing home residents and 189 positive staff.

Out of all the nursing homes in the state, 83 had at least one positive cases while 192 nursing homes had none.

“In each instance, Dr. Smith has deployed a rapid response team strategy for our nursing home,” said Hutchinson. “Whenever we get a positive case it reduces the spread and it saves lives. This aggressive approach in nursing homes is what is successful and the right strategy in terms of testing.”

Secretary of Health, Dr. Nate Smith said that nursing home facilities have worked well with the Arkansas Department of Health to help minimize the number of nursing home cases.

Hutchinson added the workers continue to do an amazing job showing up regardless of the circumstances and whether they are dealing with a COVID-19 resident or not.

As part of his appreciation, Direct Care Payments have been allocated and approved for workers in long term care facilities.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) had approved Arkansas’s request to use Medicaid funds to temporarily increase the weekly income of long-term services and supports (LTSS) direct-care workers during the COVID-19 public health emergency last month.

On April 8, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) submitted an emergency state plan amendment and two “Appendix K” amendments to cover services provided under the State Plan and agencies in non-institutional settings for people who get care in their homes and communities. With approval from CMS, DHS began to make payments retroactive to April 5, 2020, totaling $21,862,435.

“CMS’s approval of this request is welcome news for LTSS direct-care workers, who are working long hours to see that our most vulnerable Arkansans are well-cared for during this public health emergency,” said Hutchinson. “Not only will these funds help ensure continuity of care, the extra pay will alleviate some of the financial stress for the caregivers, who are selflessly serving in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in private homes at increased risk to their own health.”

Hutchinson has also directed that DHS develop a similar care continuity payment package for non-physician direct care workers in hospital settings.