In his daily COVID-19 update on Wednesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson opened with acknowledging that Hurricane Laura will likely hit Arkansas on Thursday as a tropical storm.
The governor warned Arkansans to expect high winds, flooding and downed trees and power lines. He also asked residents to pay attention to weather in their area in order to best prepare for the impending storm.
Director and State Homeland Security Adviser A.J. Gary stated that this storm will impact Arkansas with heavy rainfall causing flash floods.
Gary shared that they were in contact with FEMA in preparation and an incident team was set to arrive Thursday to help fix any damage. The director also encouraged residents to be aware of the weather.
According to Gary, urban search and rescue teams were standing by, but high winds might delay or prevent them from being deployed immediately.
Gary ended his comments by reminding Arkansans to not drive through standing water because it might be deeper than it appears.
There were 649 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and active cases rose to 5,390. No counties were cited as having more than 20 cases. Hospitalizations declined to 435 while deaths rose to 732.
Hutchinson took time to reveal that the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) is sending out 70,000 face shields to school employees across the state to be used in addition to their cloth masks.
Ivy Pfeffer of ADE spoke about the "positive start to schools" taking place across the state.
According to Pfeffer, the ADE has a point of contact available to each superintendent in case of positive cases in their district.
Pfeffer also provided an update that the ADE stockpile has already helped 63 districts with additional personal protective equipment (PPE). The stockpile was running low on small bottles of hand sanitizer, but Pfeffer stated that more were on order.
Hutchinson praised the districts that had experienced positive COVID-19 cases and followed correct protocol.