March 19: 62 cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas; In Craighead, Poinsett, Independence; Governor shuts down restaurants, bars, and more

The Arkansas Department of Health confirms COVID-19 has been found in Craighead, Poinsett, and Independence counties. Now, the governor is taking more drastic measures to halt the spread.

Here are the latest numbers from the Arkansas Department of Health, released at 2:31 PM on Thursday. The source for the numbers is here. This news article will be updated throughout Thursday, March 19, 2020.

Status Update as of March 19, 2020, 2:31pm
Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas 62
Arkansas Department of Health Lab positive test results 49
Commercial lab positive test results 13
Persons Under Investigation (PUI) 146
Persons being monitored by ADH with daily check-in and guidance because of an identified risk 509
Past PUIs with negative test results 351
Arkansas Department of Health Lab negative test results 247
Commercial Lab negative test results 104
2:31 PM on March 19

2:30 PM

Governor takes additional steps

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced several additional steps to hopefully limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

  • K-12 schools will remain closed for on site instruction an additional three weeks until April 17 – and then be reevaluated
  • State government employees to conduct work through telecommuting and on-site work as necessary
  • Hospitals, clinics and mental health facilities are mandated to screen staff and visitors with temperature and symptom screening
  • Bars and restaurants will be closed for dine-in service and open for carry out, drive-thru, and delivery. Those licensed to sell beer and wine may sell corked or sealed bottles of wine to go with purchases of food. Starts March 20 and lasts until further notice.
  • In-door venues such as gyms are closed to non-essential functions

The governor encouraged all businesses to move to telecommuting or off-site work as much as possible. They should implement screening of staff and visitors and enforce social distances. Businesses should update continuity of business-plans, he said, to figure out how to keep your business going consistent with the public health guidance today.

Those older and with serious medical conditions should STAY HOME whenever possible. Avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people. Use drive-thru/delivery of local restaurants. Avoid unnecessary trips where exposure to large groups is likely. Enjoy walking, hiking, fishing, and other activities consistent with social distances. Do not visit retirement homes, long-term care facilities, or the like unless critically needed.

The governor said he hoped churches, synagogues, and mosques would make good decisions. He said the seperation of church and state prevents him from making decisions for their services but his hope was that they would look for other ways to fellowship and communicate their message.

“They need to be creative,” Hutchinson said. “They need to minister to their congregations with the same innovations we’re asking businesses to.”

2:45 PM

Go fishing for free from March 21 to March 29

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission unanimously voted to waive fishing license fees March 21-29. That means those wanting to fish in Arkansas can do so without having to buy a fishing license. Read more here

3:05 PM

Governor says end of in-restaurant dining should begin March 20

He added that it will last until further notice.

“We’re going to lose some businesses as a result of this,” Hutchinson said. “We hope for only a short time.”

He said with the expansion of the number of counties this is involved in, it needed to go to statewide.


Jonesboro Property Owner on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon

Poll shows most observing some form of social distancing

Have you traveled or are you planning to travel? See this from the Department of Health

12:45 PM

COVID-19 confirmed in Craighead County


This page will be updated throughout Thursday, March 19, 2020 with COVID-19 related headlines. Please check back and refresh for the latest.

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