March 18: 37 confirmed cases plus more COVID-19 Headlines

The latest numbers as of Wednesday were posted at 7:34 PM from the Arkansas Department of Health (source) and show the novel coronavirus continues to move further out from central Arkansas, with Washington County in the northwestern part of the state having a confirmed case. Eight new cases were reported with Wednesday’s numbers in the morning; three more cases were added later in the day and four more in the latest update, bringing the total to 37.

Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas 37
Arkansas Department of Health Lab positive test results 30
Commercial lab positive test results 7
Persons Under Investigation (PUI) 112
Persons being monitored by ADH with daily check-in and guidance because of an identified risk 423
Past PUIs with negative test results 284
Arkansas Department of Health Lab negative test results 197
Commercial Lab negative test results 87
Current as of 7:34 PM Wednesday night

3/18 Map of Negative Tests

Company offers free rent to restaurants


The Arkansas Division of Workforce Services (unemployment office) will be closed to the public starting today due to COVID-19.

Services are still available by phone and online.


Notice to Individuals Inquiring About the Availability of Unemployment Insurance Benefits As A Result of the COVID19 Pandemic

(press release, ADWS)

The primary mission of Arkansas’ Unemployment Insurance program is to provide unemployment insurance benefits to eligible full-time and part-time workers who become separated from employment through no fault of their own or those workers who have experienced a reduction in the number of hours worked, including workers who are impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic. ADWS will continue to serve its primary mission as the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to evolve.

Workers who have become separated from employment as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic should file their unemployment insurance claims through ADWS’ online claims filing system EZARC which can be accessed via the Internet at https://www.ezarc.adws.arkansas.gov/. Generally, workers who are laid off due to a
business closure or are unable to work due to COVID-19 quarantines will be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits provided they meet the other eligibility requirements.

ADWS understands that the COVID-19 Pandemic will impact the availability of workers to engage in work-related activities and/or reemployment activities. While these requirements will not be eliminated, ADWS will be flexible with the application of these activities consistent with a worker’s status regarding their last employer and pursuant to guidance provided by the United States Department of Labor.

At this time it is not known whether or not Disaster Unemployment Assistance will be made available for individuals who do not otherwise qualify for regular unemployment insurance benefits. ADWS asks that you proceed with filing a regular unemployment insurance claim even if it is later determined that you are not eligible due to a lack of sufficient wages from work or are engaged in self-employment. Should Disaster Unemployment Assistance be authorized at a later date, you will have completed the first step in seeking those benefits.

To file an unemployment insurance claim, please contact your nearest local office or you may contact ADWS Info at 1-855-225-4440 or via email at ADWS.Info@arkansas.gov.


Hijinx Shutting Down


U.S./Canada border closing


Facebook is accidentally banning legitimate news sources

Adding to the online misinformation, Facebook has been accidentally deleting posts that are from legitimate news sources. See more from Forbes here.


ASU Museum is Closing to Visitors through April

JONESBORO – Effective immediately, Arkansas State University Museum will not be open for visitors and tour groups as part of the university’s response to the national coronavirus pandemic.

This is one of the steps the university is taking in response to federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations aimed at reducing or eliminating the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Marti Allen, director of the Museum, said the staff has been busy preparing the 34th annual Through a Child’s Eyes (TACE) art exhibition, which was scheduled to open early next month.  Area pre-K through grade 8 children have submitted their work to the annual competition.

“This year, because of the special circumstances we are facing, we are developing another plan for recognizing TACE participants and the award winners,” Allen said.  “We will announce those plans as soon as we can finalize details.”

A panel of judges reviews the children’s artwork and picks the top three works of art in each grade, and then the Museum’s curators select one piece as the Charlott Jones Best In Show.  This award recognizes the former museum director who founded TACE.

The schedule change will continue throughout March and April, and perhaps longer if necessary. For more details, contact Jill Kary (jkary@astate.edu), ASU Museum’s curator of education, at 870-972-2074.


TEMPORARY CHANGES SET FOR DRIVER LICENSE TESTING OPERATIONS

Press Release

The Arkansas State Police will implement a temporary and limited adjustment in Class D (conventional motor vehicle) driver license testing effective Wednesday, March 18th.

There is no change in any testing procedures at this time for commercial driver license applicants.

As a result of decisions this week by local government officials across the state to temporarily close or limit public access to city and county owned buildings where the state police uses space to administer driver license knowledge tests, the state police will continue to offer the testing services, but the knowledge testing will be limited to Arkansas State Police Troop Headquarters. Driver license knowledge testing in the River Valley region of the state will be administered at 765 Hob Knob Road in Russellville. The change in schedule begins at 8 AM tomorrow. A directory of Arkansas State Police Headquarters with addresses and telephone numbers can be found at https://asp.arkansas.gov/divisions/highway-patrol/

As a result of an anticipated increase in the number of knowledge testing applicants inside troop headquarters, testing agents will limit the total number of applicants to five at any given time.

The temporary change in driver license testing operations will continue through March 27th, at which time state police commanders will re-assess the changes.

Additionally, no skills testing will occur for Class D license applicants.

Being conscientious of the growing concerns among Arkansans to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19, the state police testing agents will be using sterilizing wipes to clean the computer keyboards at the testing sites after every test is completed.


Arkansas AG hearing continued reports of price gouging


City of Jonesboro update (from late Tuesday)

Perrin, City prepare for extended coronavirus

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin echoed the advice of President Trump and Gov. Hutchison in asking the public to postpone large gatherings in the City of Jonesboro.

The escalating prevalence of Covid-19, the coronavirus for which no vaccine has been created, will soon put stress not only on our health care system but has been deemed a state and national emergency.

“As mayor, I am asking you to follow the habits that we have implemented within city government – to reduce meetings in size and frequency, and allow all whose jobs permit to work from home,” Perrin said. “I believe it is the responsibility of each of us to report to the Arkansas Department of Health any gathering of more than 50 people.”

ADH has the legal authority to impose a quarantine to suppress the spread of contagious diseases. ADH and Centers for Disease Control guidelines recommend no gatherings of more than 50. President Trump asked for people to meet in groups of no more than 10, a safety measure that health agencies stress for the elderly or those with immune deficiencies.

While some businesses and restaurants remain open, many in Jonesboro have opted to provide free delivery or drive-thru and pick-up service only. Some are offering free and reduced meals to seniors and students, but no in-restaurant seating.

“I am deeply grateful to the businesses that have prioritized the safety of their community by doing take-out and delivery orders only, and the residents who understand the danger that this coronavirus presents to them and their loved ones,” Perrin said. “How we respond, right now, will play a huge role in the impact this virus has on Jonesboro over the rest of the year.”

As the City prepares to allow many employees to work remotely from home, it is doing fever checks for everyone, workers and visitors, who enter city buildings. Those who must report to work are practicing social distancing, and regular meetings of numerous employees will be held electronically in coming weeks and months.

“As city medical director Dr. Shane Speights has made clear that we expect no imminent end to this virus, we are preparing new ways of doing business for the months ahead,” Perrin said. “We want to lead by example.”


7 PM

Three more confirmed cases

Late this afternoon, the Arkansas Department of Health received three more positive test results from a commercial lab, bringing the total to 33.


Perrin opens COVID19 page on City website

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin introduced the opening of a COVID19 page on the City of Jonesboro website, Jonesboro.org, as a way to help residents stay abreast of policy and changes taking place in City government, as well as ask questions and find links to information regarding the pandemic coronavirus outbreak.

“While we work around the clock to adapt to the requirements – most notably social distancing – that will best see us through this emergency, we want to be as informative and responsive to our residents as we possibly can,” Perrin said Wednesday.

“With that in mind, I have met with my chiefs and departmental directors to put all pertinent information in one place that the public can easily access. It will include our regular news releases that have been sent out over the past two weeks, as well as briefings from me, members of my administration, health experts and community leaders.”

Perrin created the email address, COVID19@jonesboro.org, for questions that anyone might have as well as a phone hotline – 870-336-7244 – that will be manned 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays for people with questions or concerns. Emergency calls, as always, be directed to 9-1-1.

Perrin addressed concerns from the public Wednesday about a rumored positive test for COVID19 in the city, which as many rumors was unfounded, to concerns of community gatherings in the coming days.

“We have no confirmed cases in Jonesboro, but that remains not just a possibility but a strong likelihood that we are prepared to address when the time comes,” Perrin said. “Our police and fire departments have the appropriate personal protection equipment that they use in many circumstances and are ready to respond.”

press release


8 PM

Four more confirmed cases, 112 under investigation

A late Wednesday update showed four more confirmed cases in the state while the numbers for Persons Under Investigation more than doubled to 112.


9 PM

Walmart making additional adjustments

March 18, 2020
By Dacona Smith, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Walmart U.S.

Our associates have been nothing short of heroic in their commitment to serve customers, stock shelves as quickly as possible and keep their stores clean. When their communities needed them the most, our people have been at their best. Their efforts continue to be a tremendous source of pride for everyone at Walmart.

Over the weekend we adjusted our operating hours to help make it easier for associates to stock and perform enhanced cleaning and sanitizing. We’re pleased with the results we are seeing and will take additional steps beginning Thursday, March 19.

Store Operating Hours

  • Walmart U.S. stores will adjust operating hours to 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Stores that open later than 7 a.m. will continue their regular starting hours. This will further help associates restock the shelves for customers while continuing to clean and sanitize the store. While the store hours change for customers, our associates will continue to have access to their regular scheduled shifts and full hours.

Special Shopping Hours

  • We know our older customers could be more vulnerable to the coronavirus and to better support them, Walmart is offering special shopping hours. From March 24 through April 28, Walmart stores will host an hour-long senior shopping event every Tuesday for customers aged 60 and older. This will start one hour before the store opens. Our Pharmacies and Vision Centers will also be open during this time.

Item Limitations

  • We know communities are counting on us more than ever and we are determined to serve the broadest number of customers and ensure they have access to the key items they are looking for. Our stores will have limits for customers in certain categories including paper products, milk, eggs, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, water, diapers, wipes, formula and baby food.

Essential Services

  • Our people are working hard to have every part of the store ready to serve customers. To help support our people and focus on the most critical areas of the store right now, we will temporarily shut down our Auto Care Centers to allow those associates to focus on stocking and cleaning in the rest of the store.
  • Also, our Vision Centers will operate on their normal schedule, providing essential services only such as glasses repair and helping customers pick up existing orders. We will have at least one associate to serve the needs of our Vision Care customers, while the other associates will help in the rest of the store.

I think every one of us has had to adjust our daily routines in some way, and it’s likely that could continue. We are paying very close attention to our stores and communities and will continue making the necessary changes to help make sure our associates are taken care of and that our customers can get what they need. Let’s all take care of each other out there.

This page will be updated throughout Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Check back and refresh for the latest updates.

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