March 13: Nine cases of COVID19 now in Arkansas; Other coronavirus headlines

JONESBORO, Ark. – The world continues to adapt with news here at home and abroad being dominated by the coronavirus.

On Friday, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced a total of nine people have tested positive for COVID19 in Arkansas, meaning three new cases were added from the prior day. The tests, all presumptive positives, must be verified by the CDC. All positive tests were in central Arkansas: Pulaski, Saline, Jefferson, and Grant counties. Schools in those counties are being closed for two weeks.

So far, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID19 in NEA. We are in touch with local health agencies and medical providers to keep you posted with the latest news in this regard.

Visitation canceled for Poinsett County Jail; Other changes

Poinsett County Sheriff Kevin Molder told NEA Report that all visitation at the jail in his county would be suspended until further notice. He also said payments for fines are only being accepted online. None will be accepted in person. Payments can be made at

Malco limiting ticket sales to 50-percent to allow “social distancing”

Malco movie theaters will be limiting tickets for each screening to 50-percent capacity of seating in each auditorium, the movie theater chain announced Friday.

“This seating arrangement reduces crowded auditoriums, allowing for guests to practice healthy social distancing,” Malco Vice President and Director of Marketing Karen Melton said in a statement.

Central Baptist Church moving services online

Services will be online only starting this Sunday for Central Baptist Church campuses in Jonesboro and in Paragould. Churches will not be opened to the public for attendees on Sunday. The current plan is for the next three Sundays to be conducted in this manner. After, church administration will reevaluate.

First National Bank Arena postponing events

The MonsterX Tour event scheduled for Saturday March 14 has been postponed.

The Lauren Diagle concert on March 21 has been rescheduled for August 13.

St. Bernards Cancels 2020 ‘Health & Fitness Expo’ to Preserve Community Health

JONESBORO (March 13, 2020) – St. Bernards Medical Group announced its decision Friday to cancel the annual 2020 “Health & Fitness Expo” scheduled for April 18-19 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Northeast Arkansas.

The cancellation notice follows news of increased COVID-19 cases in Arkansas and across the United States. Health & Fitness Expo Physician Chair Dr. Devi Nair said the event’s steering committee unanimously concluded proactive social distancing measures, including event cancellations, provide the best tools to fight COVID-19 spread.

“As we hear about more COVID-19 cases at home and abroad,” Dr. Nair said, “our committee collectively agreed cancelling this year’s Health & Fitness Expo will help with ‘flattening the curve’ surrounding the disease’s spread.”

The term “flattening the curve” refers to a bell-shaped curve where the number of sick people stay below a linear threshold of patients that hospitals can treat. If measures are not taken to prevent a disease’s spread, the disease quickly surpasses the threshold. Consequently, the number of sick individuals may exceed a healthcare provider’s capacity of care. If, however, prevention measures are taken, the disease stays below the threshold. Healthcare providers, in turn, can properly care for all sick individuals.

St. Bernards Medical Group President Dr. Matt Garner said the committee did not make the decision lightly.

“The Health & Fitness Expo is the largest public event we hold at St. Bernards,” Dr. Garner said. “We decided across the board, however, that modeling good citizenship and Christ-like healing— our core mission—always takes precedence.”

Last year alone, the Health & Fitness Expo had more than 12,000 attendees with 900 participating volunteers. These volunteers, in conjunction with more than 100 physicians, conducted more than 4,300 free health screenings as well as 1,300 student-athlete physicals; 900 of which had an accompanying EKG. Dr. Nair noted that while this year’s expo is cancelled, the committee has plans to offer some of these free services later this year. “We understand that many folks count on our free services offered at the Health & Fitness Expo,” Dr. Nair said. “In fact, many lives have been saved as a result of the Expo, and we are committed to continual healthcare service in Northeast Arkansas.”

In addition to this year’s Health & Fitness Expo, St. Bernards Medical Group also announced the cancellation of the 2020 Doc Rock & Run Half Marathon, 5k, and Kids Rock & Run. The three events, part of the “Get in Gear” series, operate in conjunction with the Health & Fitness Expo and
were scheduled for the morning of Saturday, April 18. St. Bernards Medical Group officials said they have no plans to reschedule the three races at a later date. As background, the St. Bernards Medical Group team consists of more than 260 physicians and mid-level providers representing more than 40 specialties and 70 clinics across 12 Northeast Arkansas counties. The late Dr. Willie Young founded the group in 2000 along with seven other physicians to pool resources for better care across the region.


St. Bernards Healthcare, a non-profit healthcare system based in Northeast Arkansas, serves as the corporate parent of a number of healthcare entities, including the largest hospital in the region, St. Bernards Medical Center, a 438-bed acute care hospital that serves as a regional referral center for 23 counties in Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri. It is the only Level III Trauma Center in the region, houses the only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the eastern part of Arkansas and has served as the trusted provider of comprehensive, compassionate healthcare services for nearly 120 years. For more information, please visit or call the St. Bernards Healthline at 870.207.7300.

press release

2 PM

Jonesboro Public Schools cancel parent teacher conferences

Parent Teacher Conferences
JPS will NOT have traditional parent teacher conferences on Thursday, March 19, 2020. You will be contacted via phone, etc. by your child’s teacher next week. School will still dismiss an hour early on Thursday, March 19th.

Students will be provided a total of 10 days of AMI work that will be provided on their teacher’s website in case of school closure.

Enhanced Health Protocol

Due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), flu and other recent illnesses, we are implementing enhanced health screening for our students and staff.

Any student or adult with a temperature higher than 99.9 and exhibits any of the following symptoms should not remain at school: Cough, Shortness of breath, Body aches, Fatigue, Runny Nose, Congestion, and/or Sneezing.

An individual should be fever free for 24 hours without medication before returning to school.


The Arkansas Athletics Association has suspended all games and events from March 15-30. The Health Health & Fitness Expo and Dance Team tryouts arepostponed until a later date. While we are in school, practices will go on as planned unless coaches change dates. If school is cancelled,

All practices, games, and facilities will be shut down until March 30.

A press conference/webinar is scheduled for Friday afternoon and additional information may become available.

2:20 PM

Area jails suspend visitation, announces changes

Starting Friday, the Izard County Jail is suspending fingerprinting for outside functions of the Sheriff’s Department. Visitation for inmates will be suspended for this weekend (March 15), a release said.

In Independence County, jailers are suspending inmate in person visitation (normally held on weekends). They’re also suspending fingerprinting for employment or other functions outside of law enforcement.

2:40 PM

President Trump declares national emergency

A news conference by President Trump included an emergency declaration. It will allow a state to request a 75 percent cost-share for expenses such as emergency workers, testing, medical supplies and vaccinations.

Memphis in May announces it is continuing – for now


4:30 PM

County Clerk asks governor to consider options for run-off election

Craighead County Clerk Kade Holliday has sent a letter to the governor asking him to either allow the run-off elections to be done by mail or to be postponed.

Harrisburg, Trumann District Courts rescheduling

Harrisburg District Court will be cancelling court on Tuesday March 17, 2020 and is tentatively rescheduling court for Tuesday May 19, 2020 at 9:00 a.m..

Also Harrisburg District Court is closed to the public due to the Covid-19 situation. Employees are on site. Payments for fines,or tickets, can be made using the drop box located in the front of the Municipal Building, over the phone by calling 1-877-591-8768 or online at

Trumann District Court is cancelling court on Monday March 16, 2020 and is tentatively rescheduling this date for May 18, 2020 at 9:00 a.m.

5:30 PM

Cruise lines suspend for 30 days

Effective midnight tonight, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and MSC have all agreed to suspend outbound cruises for thirty days, according to President Trump on Twitter


City of Paragould closes public buildings

Several government buildings in Paragould will be closed to the public, a statement by the city said.

In an effort to help maintain the health of our citizens and our employees, some city offices / buildings have been closed to the public until further notice. …updates will also be placed on the city’s website noted below. Current closings are:

-Public Works, Airport Rd: Main office closed to the public. All services will operate normally, including sanitation. If you need any assistance from Public Works, do not hesitate to contact them at 870-239-7520.

-Parks and Recreation: All parks and recreation buildings are closed, including the Community Center. If you need any information or assistance from them, you may contact them at 870-239-7530.

-Fire Department: All stations are closed to the public. Anyone needing to obtain burn permits may do so by going to the city website at or by calling them directly at 870-239-7525. IMPORTANT: There are no changes to the fire department’s response. This change only applies to the stations themselves.

5:45 PM

ASTATE Campus Events Postponed or Canceled are Listed

JONESBORO – A number of events scheduled for March and April on the Arkansas State University campus have been postponed or canceled in the wake of the coronavirus health crisis facing the nation.  New dates for postponed events will be announced as soon as possible.

As of 4:30 p.m., March 13, the affected events, original date, and status are listed in chronological sequence:

  • ACTM Mathematics Contests, March 14, canceled
  • Scarlet Chess Club Tournament, March 14, postponed
  • Monster X Tour Show, March 14, postponed
  • Delta Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Auditions, March 14, (face-to-face cancelled; alternate method to be used)
  • NEA Art Educators Exhibition Opening Reception, March 15, canceled
  • A-State Spring sports competitions, suspended
  • Wind Ensemble Concert, March 17, canceled
  • FFA Career Development Events, March 18, postponed
  • Retirement Reception for Carol Barnhill, March 18, postponed
  • Spring football game, March 19, canceled
  • Faculty recital by Dr. Bruce Faske, March 19, postponed
  • Transfer Preview Day, March 20, canceled
  • Lauren Daigle Concert, March 21, postponed to Aug. 13 (see ticket info on FNB Arena website)
  • KASU Bluegrass Monday, March 23, canceled
  • Women’s Business Leadership Conference, April 2, Postponed
  • Arkansas College Media Association Conference, April 3, canceled
  • Spring Social Work Conference, April 3, canceled
  • ABI DNA Day Celebration, April 3, canceled
  • Concert by Cory Jackson and Marybeth Byrd, April 4, postponed
  • College of Engineering and Computer Science honors banquet, April 6, canceled
  • College of Agriculture honors banquet, April 7, canceled
  • Concert Choir concert, April 7, postponed to April 21
  • Department of Media honors banquet, April 8, canceled
  • Delta Symposium: The Haunted South, April 8-11, canceled
  • Arkansas Roots Music Festival, April 11, canceled
  • College of Education and Behavioral Science honors banquet, April 13, canceled
  • Neil Griffin College of Business honors banquet, April 13, canceled
  • College of Liberal Arts and Communication, April 14, canceled
  • Department of Communications honors banquet, April 15, canceled
  • Phi Kappa Phi honors banquet, April 20, canceled
  • Resilience, documentary film, April 20, postponed
  • Wind Ensemble Concert, April 22, canceled
  • College of Sciences and Mathematics honors banquet, April 23, canceled
  • Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, April 25, postponed
  • College of Nursing and Health Professions honors banquet, April 27, canceled
  • Undergraduate Studies, honors banquet, April 30, canceled

WBU to Extend Spring Break, Curtail Large Gatherings

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Williams Baptist University is extending its spring break to two weeks.  Spring break at WBU will now begin Wednesday, March 18, which is three days sooner than originally scheduled. Classes will begin again on campus Wednesday, April 1.  The break had been scheduled originally to run March 21-29.

The university is also curtailing large gatherings, and all spring sports seasons have been cancelled.  University-sponsored trips off campus have been cancelled for the remainder of the spring semester, as well.

“Our first priority is always the health and safety or our students, so we are taking actions to protect our campus community in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.  We believe these are proactive steps which protect our students while also maintaining a conducive learning environment,” said WBU President Dr. Stan Norman.

The president noted that the university has other contingencies in place, should further measures become necessary.

“We launched an initiative this year to provide iPads to all our students for enhanced instruction and learning, so the infrastructure is in place should online instruction be necessary.  As a teaching university, our plans and preferences at this time are to continue with classroom instruction when we return from our extended spring break, but we are prepared to address alternative instructional methods should the need arise,” Norman said.

Here are details of WBU’s plans in regard to coronavirus:

  • Offices will remain open during the extended spring break.
  •  All university-sponsored travel on and off campus is cancelled for the remainder of the semester.
  •  All large gatherings on campus are cancelled for the remainder of the semester.  This includes weekly chapel and praise services as well as concerts and performances.
  •  The American Midwest Conference has cancelled the remainder of all spring athletic events.  This decision is reflective of national trends for all levels of athletic competition, both professional and collegiate.
  • WBU is developing plans to address the special needs and concerns of its international students.  Williams is committed to caring for these students, ensuring they are housed and fed, and that accommodations are made as needed for their studies.

The WBU president noted the situation remains very fluid, and that plans may change with new developments regarding the coronavirus threat.

WBU is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge.

We will add further news headlines that break on Friday, March 13 about the coronavirus to this news article. Refresh and check back here for more. 

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