March 26: 349 COVID-19 cases in Arkansas; Now in Randolph; Barely any test results in NEA; Nice-Pak hiring

On Thursday, the Arkansas Department of Health continued to release numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas. This included the first confirmed case in Randolph County. To see the source numbers and map, click here.

9 PM

Arkansas Total: 349 confirmed cases; 3 deaths; 19 recoveries

  • As of 8:25 AM, there had been 1,814 total tested for COVID-19 in Arkansas. 1,504 of those tests were negative. 310 positive.
  • As of 12:49 PM, there had been 1,839 total tested for COVID-19 in Arkansas. 1,504 of those tests were negative. 335 positive.
  • As of 5 PM, there has been 1,868 total tested for COVID-19 in Arkansas. 1,519 of those tests were negative. 349 positive.
  • As of 9 PM, there has been 1,882 total tested for COVID-19 in Arkansas. 1,533 of those tests were negative. 349 positive.

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United States Total: 85,505 cases; 1,288 deaths; 713 recoveries

Global numbers reached 526,044 as of 5:13 PM Thursday. 23,709 have died and 122,066 have recovered. Source: JHU


Record-setting unemployment numbers

Over 3 million Americans filed for unemployment last week as the coronavirus crisis inflicted a major toll on the economy. Most on Wall Street expected 1.5 million jobless claims. Read more from CNBC.


The United States is outpacing everyone else in the spread of the disease

20200326 Bending the curve total cases


Test result shortages

As of 8:30 AM, only 1,777 people in Arkansas had tests completed for COVID-19 but those numbers are mostly concentrated in central and northwest Arkansas. Cumulative numbers from the Arkansas Department of Health’s website show most counties in NEA have had fewer than ten TOTAL tests processed by the lab. Since some of the counties don’t contain exact numbers (a range of 1-4 is given, for example), some of our tallies can only be measured in a range.

Here are the numbers of tests each Northeast Arkansas county had completed for COVID-19, according to ADH data, as of 8:30 AM:

  • Clay County – Less than 5 tests processed
  • Cleburne County – At least 84 tests processed
  • Crittenden County – Less than 12 tests processed
  • Craighead County – 9 tests processed
  • Cross County – Less than 5 tests processed
  • Greene County – Less than 10 tests processed
  • Independence County – Less than 12 tests processed
  • Jackson County – Less than 5 tests processed
  • Lawrence County – Less than 9 tests processed
  • Mississippi County – Less than 5 tests processed
  • Poinsett County – Less than 9 tests processed
  • Randolph County – 5 tests processed
  • Sharp County – 6 tests processed
  • White County – Less than 35 tests processed
  • Woodruff County – Less than 9 tests processed

On Wednesday, Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said he was taking little comfort in statistics not changing for NEA, since there was a shortage of tests.

“Official reports of our COVID-19 case numbers have not changed this week, I take little comfort in those statistics,” Perrin said in a statement. “While our hospitals have been testing patients, Arkansas and many other states have lacked the capability to actually run the tests.”

The Jonesboro mayor said more laboratories are starting to be able to run the tests and as they do, logically, more positive cases will be found. It’s just too early to determine with accuracy where we are now and how prevalent the disease already is in Arkansas.

“So I am proud of our majority of responsible residents who are practicing social distancing and washing their hands often,” Perrin said. “Still, I am confident we are only beginning to see the impact of this disease.”


State bans social gatherings larger than 10

On Wednesday, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced social gatherings of larger than ten were banned by directive across the state. This means parties, weddings, family events, etc. It does not apply to businesses that have not been otherwise included in a shutdown order.


Senator Boozman comments on passage of Stimulus

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after voting in support of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act:

“The coronavirus is overwhelming our healthcare system and is inflicting a dramatic financial toll on American workers, families and small businesses. The magnitude of this crisis urgently requires us to think big and act big. The CARES Act provides emergency relief to those upended by the devastation this outbreak is causing. Providing funds directly to hardworking Americans, resources to help job creators continue operations, and support for the men and women of the medical community who are on the frontlines treating patients and working to find a cure is necessary to address this emergency.”


11:20 AM

Nice-Pak To Hire More Than 100 at its Jonesboro Production Facility to Meet Demand for Wipes

(Press release)

ORANGEBURG, NY – March 26, 2020 – Nice-Pak (www.nicepak.com), a leading producer of wet wipes, announced today it will hire more than 100 workers at its manufacturing and distribution facility in Jonesboro, AR. The immediate hiring need is in response to the increasing demand for cleaning and hygiene products as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads.

“We are proud of and thank our dedicated employees who continue to work hard during this challenging period to supply consumers with the products they need to help care for and protect their families,” said Robert Julius, Chief Executive Officer, Nice-Pak. “We will continue to do all we can to protect them while fulfilling our mission to help keep families healthy and well, one wipe at a time.”

To help meet this urgent demand, Nice-Pak’s facility in Jonesboro has openings for both temporary and full-time employees, including machine operators, forklift drivers and maintenance and clerical workers, to serve across all shifts. The company will offer training for all skill levels. Interested candidates can obtain more information and apply by contacting: jonesboroarjobs@nicepak.com.

Nice-Pak is a premier employer in the community, offering excellent health benefits and competitive pay. This hiring initiative is part of a larger plan to hire more workers across all Nice-Pak’s operations to meet the increasing demand.
As a fourth-generation family-owned business, Nice-Pak has pioneered wet wipes for nearly 60 years to help families live cleaner, healthier lives. Nice-Pak produces high demand essential cleaning products including Disinfecting Wipes, Hand Sanitizing Wipes, and Baby Wipes. These cleaning and hygiene products play a critical role in helping to keep the public clean and healthy, which is even more crucial during this time.

About Nice ‘n CLEAN® Nice ‘n CLEAN® is the only full-line of premium wipes including Antibacterial Hand Wipes, Baby Wipes, Moist Toilet Wipes, Feminine Hygiene Wipes, and Lens Wipes. Nice ‘n CLEAN products are made with an ultra-soft and smooth fiber derived from 100% plant-based materials.

About NICE-PAK Headquartered in Orangeburg, NY Nice-Pak is a fourth generation family-owned business and a global leader in the manufacturing, distribution, and marketing of pre-moistened wipes. Since 1957, Nice-Pak and its family of companies have been the go-to choice for surface and skin hygiene in hospitals, restaurants, and homes around the world. The portfolio of Nice-Pak brands includes Nice ‘n Clean®, Grime Boss®, and Wet-Nap®.


Advisory for Travelers from New York State and All International Locations

(press release)

ADH is now recommending self home quarantine for 14 days for all travelers from New York State and all international locations.  This is due to high rates of COVID-19 in New York as well as in a growing number of international locations. In the interest of the public health, all travelers who return from one of these locations are advised to quarantine at home for 14 days, starting from the date they left that location.  If you develop fever, cough, or other symptom of COVID-19, you should contact your doctor for advice on where to be evaluated.

You can find details of home quarantine here: https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/covid-19-guidance-for-self-home-quarantine

Briefly, home quarantine includes these steps:

  • Remain at home and avoid all public activities. This means do not go to work, church, school, stores (including grocery stores), nor any public events or places.
  • Do not have visitors in your home.
  • If you live in a home with other people, stay in a separate room. If that is not possible, wear a face mask when you are in the same room and stay at least 6 feet away from them.
  • Wash your hands and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer often. Do not share personal items such as dishes, cups, forks, spoons, towels, etc.
  • Do not leave your home except to get medical care. If you need to see a doctor for reasons other than a medical emergency, please call us at your medical provider to discuss the care you need.
  • In the event of a medical emergency, call 911. Tell them that you are in self home quarantine for novel coronavirus exposure. Keep a face mask on until a health care provider asks you to remove it.
  • Do not use any public transportation (buses, taxis, ride share services, or airplane).
  • Check yourself for fever twice a day. This means taking your temperature in the morning and before bed at night. Write it down in a log or piece of paper.

For other COVID-19 questions, visit https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus .


Boozman discusses details of stimulus act

(press release)

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) expressed optimism that the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act—historic legislation to help stabilize the economy and provide relief to Americans struggling in the wake of economic challenges due to the coronavirus outbreak—will give Arkansans “confidence they are going to make it through these challenging financial times.”

“Across the country we’ve seen mass layoffs and record numbers of Americans file for unemployment as people have been asked to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Hardworking Arkansans need confidence they are going to make it through these challenging financial times. The CARES Act delivers immediate assistance to workers and families, and support for small businesses. I urge members of the House of Representatives to swiftly pass this legislation,” Boozman said.

Boozman has talked with Arkansans from across the state who represent industries and hardworking individuals affected by the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus. He brought those concerns to his colleagues as members finalized the Phase 3 relief package. As Chairman of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Subcommittee, Boozman provided increased flexibility to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funding to allow the department to react appropriately to the evolving health crisis. He also advocated and supported additional funding for the Army and Air Force National Guard to ensure Arkansas Guardsmen have all the resources necessary to best support the state’s needs during this difficult time. In addition, he fought for rural communities by pushing for provisions to protect agricultural producers and airports in rural America that were included in the CARES Act.

The CARES Act includes provisions that:

Bolster Health Care Response to COVID-19:

  • Makes all COVID-19 tests free;
  • Provides an influx of funding for hospitals and essential supplies:

o    $11 billion for diagnostics, treatments and vaccines

o    $16 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile;

  • Allocates $4.3 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

o    $1.5 billion for state and local preparedness and response grants

o    $500 million to improve public health surveillance;

  • Allots $19.6 billion for veterans health care:

o   $14.4 billion to support increased demand for healthcare services at VA facilities and through telehealth, including the purchase of medical equipment and supplies, testing kits, and personal protective equipment.

o    Provides the VA with increased flexibility to react to the ever-changing situation and direct funding where it is needed most.

Provide Relief to Families:

  • Provides checks directly to individuals and families:

o    $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples, means-tested and phased down for higher-earning individuals and couples

o    $500 for each eligible child;

  • Delays student loan payments and interest for up to six months without penalty to the student;
  • Provides temporary expanded unemployment assistance, provides additional funding to states to administer increased unemployment assistance, and creates flexibilities such as waiving the “waiting week.”

Support Job Creators

  • Allots $350 billion to the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make loans to small businesses to cover payroll costs and manage debts. The portion of the loan used for payroll, interest on mortgages, payment of rent or utilities can be eligible for loan forgiveness if certain criteria are met;
  • Provides the Treasury Secretary the authority to issue up to $500 billion in loans and loan guarantees to eligible entities including businesses vital to national security, air carriers and cargo air carriers;
  • Grants $265 million to Small Business Development Centers and Women’s Business Centers to provide technical assistance to small businesses.

Help Rural America

  • Provides $14 billion toward replenishment of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation, which will allow USDA the flexibility to respond to farmers’ economic challenges;
  • Provides $9.5 billion in emergency support for agricultural producers, including livestock producers impacted by COVID-19;
  • Allocates $300 million for financial assistance to aquaculture businesses and other fishery related businesses;
  • Permanently rescinds the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) interim final rule that would have negatively impacted poultry farmers trying to get SBA loans;
  • Allocates $56 million to the Essential Air Service (EAS) program to maintain existing air service to rural communities. (Four Arkansas airports participate in the EAS program: Harrison, Hot Springs, El Dorado and Jonesboro);
  • Provides $100 million for USDA’s ReConnect Program for grants to expand broadband service.

On Tuesday, Boozman spoke on the Senate floor urging his colleagues to advance the CARES Act. In addition, he helped secure $6.2 million to help Arkansas respond to the health emergency in Phase I legislation and supported the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Phase 2  package specifically designed to provide support for hardworking Americans and families who are facing financial challenges due to this outbreak.


Governor addresses the state

A COVID-19 update from the Arkansas state capitol was held today at 2:30 PM.

The governor announced several new initiatives to help health care providers and others affected by COVID-19. Most notably, Governor Hutchinson announced that non-physician nurses will be getting $250 a week extra unless they’re in a facility treating COVID-19 patients, and then they’ll get $500 a week. This will last during this public health emergency.

https://www.youtube.com/c/GovernorAsaHutchinson/live


12:30 PM

Courts reschedule

An order signed by Craighead County Circuit Court Judge Cindy Thyer rescheduled the plea and arraignment hearing originally set for Friday, March 27, to 1 p.m. on April 24, due to the coronavirus and the declaration of a national emergency

An order by Craighead County Circuit Court Judge Pamela Honeycutt has rescheduled criminal court hearing set for Monday, March 30, to July 30, due to the coronavirus.


3:45 PM

Secretary of State announces temporary waiver of franchise tax late fees and interest

(LITTLE ROCK, ARK.) – Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston announced today that late fees and interest charges on businesses’ annual franchise taxes will be waived until July 15th. The filing deadline for annual franchise taxes is May 1st. Typically, companies filing after the deadline are charged a $25 late fee plus 0.000274% interest per day the payment is delinquent. These penalties will be waived for those who file between May 2nd and July 15th. This only applies to the 2020 franchise tax reporting year.

Secretary Thurston said, “The May 1st deadline is set by state law, however, we thought this would be one way to help companies who may need a little extra time to get their tax payments in order. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is having a serious impact on our business community and we want to help them in any way that we can.”

The Secretary continues to work closely with all stakeholders and coordinated these efforts with those of the Governor’s Office and the Department of Finance and Administration.

Arkansas franchise taxes can be filed conveniently online at https://www.ark.org/sos/franchise/index.php.

 


Dow back over 22,000

The Dow jumped another 1300 points on Thursday to close at 22,552.17 off of enthusiasm for the stimulus plan. The NASDAQ closed up 413.24 at 7,797.54. The S&P closed up over six percent at 2,630.07.


5:15 PM

Arkansas Tech Company Steps Up to Help

Press Release

AnyWay Technologies, an IT company based in Wynne, AR, is doing what it can to support businesses affected by COVID-19. “I know this is a frightening time,” says owner and CEO Joshua Brodbent, “the world is struggling to find a way to stay safe, yet still maintain some sense of normalcy.” Growing concerned about companies that had to keep their doors open because they did not have the capabilities or knowledge to work remotely, Josh came up with an idea.

For the next ninety-days AnyWay Technologies will offer their Total Lockdown Contract free for any company affected by the quarantine.

“By giving companies this support (which includes free remote setup, monitoring, and help desk) I hope to help eliminate the need for people to physically go into work.”

About Anyway Technologies: Joshua Brodbent started AnyWay Technologies in 1997 when he was just twelve years old. While most kids his age were playing ball and hanging with friends, Josh was in the basement of his parents’ house building and repairing computers. From that humble beginning Josh grew the company to what it is today, one of the leading IT companies in the state of Arkansas. Along the way he gathered awards and accolades, but always he kept a humble perspective of life and watched for opportunities to share his success and reach out to others.


To make it easy for our readers to keep up with the massive influx of headlines about the coronavirus, each day is being organized in its own article. This story will be updated throughout the day with additional headlines. Check back/refresh for the latest update and latest numbers.

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1 Comment

  1. What about people on Disability? Will we get a boost in pay? We are apart of the economy and can barely service on what we get now.

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