Friday’s latest numbers show Arkansas is up to 100 cases with 176 persons under investigation. We learned earlier today Greene County had a confirmed case as well. The numbers can be found from the Arkansas Department of Health here.
|Status Update as of March 20, 2020, 5:24pm|
|Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas||100|
|Arkansas Department of Health Lab positive test results||62|
|Commercial lab positive test results||38|
|Persons Under Investigation (PUI)||176|
|Persons being monitored by ADH with daily check-in and guidance because of an identified risk||494|
|Past PUIs with negative test results||441|
|Arkansas Department of Health Lab negative test results||295|
|Commercial Lab negative test results||146|
Suddenlink offering free internet for two months to homes with students
Suddenlink is offering Altice Advantage Internet free for 60 days, where available, to any household in their service area that has a student from K-12 and/or college, a press release sent to NEA Report said Friday.
This special Suddenlink service is for students who are displaced due to school closures and who don’t have Internet access at home.
After your first 60 free days of Internet service expires, those affected can either cancel the service, or keep it as a regular paying Altice Advantage Internet customer at a rate of $14.99 per month, with no annual contract.
Call 888.633.0030 to sign up. To learn more visit AlticeAdvantageInternet.com
IRS Moves Tax Deadline
The IRS will move the national income tax filing day ahead to July 15, three months after the normal deadline for Americans to send in their returns, according to the Treasury Secretary.
Walmart announces cash bonus, 150,000 new jobs
BENTONVILLE, Ark., March 19, 2020 — Walmart today announced plans to provide a special cash bonus for hourly associates for their hard work and dedication to serving customers in a time of an unprecedented national health crisis. The bonus is for all U.S. hourly associates in stores, clubs, supply chain and offices. The bonus will be $300 for full-time hourly associates and $150 for part-time hourly associates and will add up to more than $365 million. Every hourly associate employed by the company as of March 1 will qualify, and it will pay out on April 2.
In addition to that special bonus for hourly associates, the company will accelerate the next scheduled quarterly bonus for store, club and supply chain associates a month early. When it pays out in late April, it will help provide more cash in hand for associates sooner. The company will pay those bonuses as if the company achieved its first quarter plan. At the regularly scheduled time for bonus payout in May, that amount may increase for associates based on performance. In no case will an eligible associate receive less than the first quarter plan bonus payment. The early payout will add up to $180 million.
Overall, it amounts to nearly $550 million going into associates’ pockets and the economy at this important time. Hourly Q4 bonuses were paid this week, meaning hourly associates will receive bonus payments on March 19, April 2, April 30 and May 28.
“Walmart associates have gone above and beyond the call of duty in serving our customers during these unprecedented times,” said Doug McMillon, President and CEO, Walmart. “We want to reward our associates for their hard work and recognize them for the work that is in front of us.”
Walmart has a steady workforce of full-time and part-time workers helping meet the everyday needs of its customers. As part of responding to the current environment, Walmart is also hiring 150,000 new associates through the end of May to work in stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers. These roles will be temporary at first, but many will convert to permanent roles over time. We’ve reached out to industry groups representing restaurants and hospitality to facilitate temporary roles that can be a bridge for their employees during this difficult time.
Walmart is also implementing a new process to dramatically expedite hiring for key roles, such as cashiers and stockers. What is usually a two-week application cycle will be reduced to a 24-hour process. Anyone interested in applying should do so at careers.walmart.com. This initiative is aimed at helping put Americans to work, while helping Walmart better serve customers during this time of increased demand.
“We know millions of Americans who are usually employed at this time are temporarily out of work, and at the same time we’re currently seeing strong demand in our stores,” said McMillon. “We’re looking for people who see Walmart as a chance to earn some extra money and perform a vital service to their community.”
Today’s steps are in addition to last week’s announcement of a new COVID-19 emergency leave policy that provides support to associates if they are impacted by the coronavirus in the following ways: (1) if they are uncomfortable coming to work right now and choose to stay home (2) if they are part of mandated quarantines or (3) if they have a confirmed case of the virus.
Arkansas State University taking additional steps
- All on-campus activities should be shifted into online delivery, including advising, tutoring, and academic support.
- All food service in Acansa Dining Hall will be takeout only.
- Any face-to-face interaction should use social distancing and no more than 10 in any group, regardless of location.
- The campus will be limited to necessary university operations required to support the ongoing operation of public safety, campus health, continuity of business operations, reduced University Housing, dining operations related to on-campus housing, and vital online networking operations.
- University staff will continue to clean and disinfect surfaces to protect employees deemed necessary for on-campus activity.
City responds in wake of first positive COVID-19 test
Press Release – Thursday, 5:37 PM
While Mayor Harold Perrin and Craighead County Judge Marvin Day confirmed the first positive test of COVID-19 in the Jonesboro area, government and health officials urged residents to continue and in some cases heighten the one known practice to reduce the impact of the coronavirus: social distancing.
The identity of the person who tested positive and his or her condition remains private under federal HIPAA laws. “We knew this day was coming, and we certainly want to stress social distancing,” Perrin said. “I’m seeing fewer people on the streets, and I want to encourage everyone to buckle down because this is how Jonesboro reduces the impact of coronavirus.”
Perrin affirmed Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s mandate that all restaurants and bars close dine-in service, and asked residents to support local merchants by ordering drive-thru, pick-up or delivery service and using shopping assistants offered by various retailers. Public and private gyms and gathering spots have also been closed statewide to non-essential use.
“My wife and I enjoy many of our restaurants around Jonesboro, and that won’t change,” Perrin said. “But I have been using drive-thru and pick-up service exclusively for more than a week and will continue to for the near future.”
Perrin already had called for several of the measures Hutchison outlined, as the City has restricted visitors at all its offices and conducted fever checks of staff and customers all week. He has stressed the importance of small groups, as recommended by the CDC and Arkansas Department of Health. The City on Friday will test a strategy of telecommuting for employees who can conduct business from home.
“I like to see workers at work, but these are unique times, and we have to be responsible for the health and welfare of not only our workers but anyone they might come in contact with,” Perrin said.
Jonesboro’s senior and recreation centers have been closed for a week, and Hutchison’s mandate Thursday will lengthen the closures at Allen and Parker parks, as well as the Earl Bell Center. They would be used, however, in the case of emergency such as a weather-related disaster. The Red Cross operates these locations as shelters during such emergencies.
Other information for Jonesboro residents and media:
- The first of semi-regular FacebookLive briefings by the mayor and other health and government leaders will be broadcast at 2 p.m. Friday, March 20. Dr. Shane Speights will join the mayor on this broadcast. Residents and media can go to the City of Jonesboro AR Facebook page to follow. (Media with questions can text those to Communications Director Bill Campbell, either to be answered during the broadcast or for an individual response.)
- The City’s COVID-19 email and hotline response system was utilized by the public 22 times on its opening day Thursday. People with questions and concerns can write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 870-336-7244. The City has also debuted a COVID-19 page on the City website, Jonesboro.org, that provides many resources for those dealing with this outbreak from many perspectives.
- CWL has suspended shut-offs/disconnections temporarily. CWL has not set a date when this policy will end, but said it will be in effect at least through March.
- Scammers in other parts of the state have offered COVID19 tests, either by phone or door to door. Anyone offering a virus test is not legitimate and should be reported to law enforcement.
- JPD has reported no increase in crime, and both the City police and fire departments are running at full capacity. Rumors of anything less are invalid.
- While we’re talking about rumors, it is critical that the community not panic and spread, much less believe, the many rumors that have reached City departments. Those include claims ranging from both reduced crime and reduced numbers of patrol officers on the street (neither is true) to a claim that the National Guard is putting the city on lockdown. These are strange times, but for your peace of mind and perhaps safety, please don’t get caught up in the rumor mill.
Arkansas State Lottery Claim Center Closed to the Public
Mail-in Claims Encouraged for Winners
Press Release – March 19, 2020
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Per Governor Asa Hutchinson’s directives today to help protect employees and members of the public, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery (ASL) will close the Claim Center located in downtown Little Rock effective tomorrow morning.
As always, players may redeem winning tickets by mail. To redeem, print and fill out a claim form, along with the signed ticket, and copy of photo identification. For detailed information and a link to the claim form, please visit the Claim Prize page at www.MyArkansasLottery.com.
“We continue to monitor the situation daily and will keep the public informed as things evolve,” said ASL Director Bishop Woosley. “Our goal is to continue lottery operations and to help protect the health and safety of the public until this outbreak is under control.”
To the extent possible, the ASL may extend deadline dates to redeem tickets. Otherwise, all Lottery operations will continue as normal.
Standardized testing will not be enforced this year, President Trump says
All interest temporarily waived on federally held student loans.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: CDC and Other Health Officials are not Going Door-to-Door Performing Tests
LITTLE ROCK – While Arkansans are staying home in an attempt to prevent infection and spread of the COVID-19 virus, con artists are out and about going door-to-door targeting frightened senior citizens. Posing as employees of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these scammers knock on your door and offer to scan you for the COVID-19 virus at a cost of $50. These con artists, who are not licensed medical professionals, swab your nasal cavity and pretend to perform a medical test while you watch. To obtain your “test results,” the scammers ask for your banking information, including credit and debit card numbers, and social security number.
“It is unbelievable that con artists use the fear surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic to target Arkansans, especially senior citizens,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The CDC and other health officials are not going door-to-door and performing tests. Arkansans should consult their trusted health care provider or the Arkansas Department of Health regarding COVID-19 testing.”
The Attorney General’s Office confirmed that the CDC is not going door-to-door for testing. Arkansas residents encountering someone at their door stating that they are there to test them for the COVID-19 virus should immediately call local law enforcement and file a consumer complaint with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office.
JPD waiving background check fees for health care/child care workers
This article will be updated throughout the day on Friday, March 20, 2020. Check back/refresh for the latest updates.