On Monday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed several executive orders that would protect workers, businesses and healthcare professionals from liability related to reopening or COVID-19.
These orders were a result of both Arkansas Senate and House of Representatives expressing the desire to protect Arkansans from lawsuits and fines related to the coronavirus. This action will replace the need for state legislature to call a special session.
A unique aspect of this order is that employees will be able to collect workman’s compensation if they contract COVID-19 at work.
This order also protects businesses who are trying their best to protect their employees and customers.
The orders went into effect Monday and will stay active until the pandemic is over. Hutchinson seemed to indicate that would be when a vaccine is developed.
In an interview on C-SPAN on Friday, Hutchinson addressed the rise in cases in Arkansas and the decision to enter Phase 2 starting Monday.
Hutchinson maintained that Arkansas has seen no correlation of the increase in cases to the reopening of businesses and that the state is “managing our way through this risk.”
The governor also pointed out that, at 10%, Arkansas has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country as a result of the pandemic. He attributed this number to the fact that he never put the state under a stay at home order.
The increase in cases on Monday was 416 and the hospitalizations rose to 206 with 182 deaths.
According to Hutchinson, hospitalizations and deaths are the best indicators for the true rise in infection. The drastic rise in cases is mostly due to the increase of testing.
In the month of June, Arkansas set a goal to carry out 120,000 tests and as of Monday had administered over 68,000.
The largest amount of increase in cases was in Washington County with 126 on Monday.
Hutchinson admonished Arkansans to not get lazy and to remain vigilant when it came to social distancing and wearing masks when that is not possible.
The governor commended residents for flattening the curve on the front end of the virus so that Arkansas was able to buy time so that supply chains were not strained and the state was able to prepare for the coming infections.
The statewide capacity for hospitals remains at good levels and Hutchinson is pleased with the way they are handling the crisis.