March 27: 386 cases in Arkansas; Jonesboro mayor closes playgrounds; Major increase in negative tests

On Friday, the Arkansas Department of Health continued to release numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas. To see the source numbers and map including county-by-county breakdown, click here.

8:20 PM

Arkansas Total: 386 confirmed cases; 3 deaths; 23 recoveries

  • As of 8:20 AM, there had been 1,884 total tested for COVID-19 in Arkansas. 1,533 of those were negative tests. 351 were positive.
  • As of 1:15 PM, there had been 1,926 total tested for COVID-19 in Arkansas. 1,545 of those were negative tests. 381 were positive.
  • As of 4:50 PM, there had been 2,009 total tested for COVID-19 in Arkansas. 1,625 of those were negative tests. 384 were positive.
  • As of 8:20 PM, there had been 3,269 total tested for COVID-19 in Arkansas. 2,883 of those were negative test. 386 were positive.

United States Total: 103,942 cases; 1,689 deaths; 1.6% Fatality Rate; 870 recoveries

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Globally: 595,800 confirmed cases; 27,324 deaths; 4.5% Fatality Rate. 131,006 recovered (4:50 PM) Source: JHU


Ross Dress for Less cancels orders

Ross Stores Inc. has joined the growing list if retailers activating contingency plans as the rapid rise in coronavirus cases across the United States takes a toll on the economy and individual firms. In a letter to vendors Thursday, the off-price retailer said it would cancel all merchandise purchase orders through June 18 due to the impact of COVID-19 on its business, Reuters reports. Read more.


Powerball goes cheap

The group that oversees the Powerball game announced Wednesday night that it would cut minimum jackpots in half, from $40 million to $20 million, after there is a winner of the current big prize. The jackpot also could grow more slowly, with minimum increases of $2 million instead of the normal $10 million after each twice-weekly drawing.


General Motors suspends production in North America

General Motors said on Thursday it would suspend production at its North American factories indefinitely, lay off 6,500 salaried employees and cut executive pay, signaling that the automaker believes that coronavirus will take a serious toll on its business. Read more here.


House expected to vote on coronavirus stimulus Friday

After being passed in the Senate earlier in the week, The House of Representatives will likely approve the $2 trillion stimulus package. It will then go to President Trump to be signed, which he has said he will do. Read more.


Hobby Lobby memo

In an internal Hobby Lobby memo obtained by Business Insider, the company told managers that sick employees must use personal paid time off and vacation pay or take an “unpaid leave of absence until further notice.” According to the memo, if a store is required to close because of a state or federal mandate, employees will first be required to use “all available paid time off benefits.” Read more.


9:45 AM

Almost 400 COVID-19 samples collected in Craighead County – and only 9 processed

A Jonesboro Sun report showed that numbers from both major hospitals in Jonesboro neared 400 in the amount of tests that have been sent off to be processed in the lab. Most have been sent to commercial labs. Only nine in the county are showing up from the Arkansas Department of Health as having been completed. Read more here.


Governor speaks Friday at 1:30 PM

  • Ten additional National Gaurd personnel will assist to expand hospital capacity


3 PM

Arkansas State plans to restrict housing to those without other options

In order to protect the health and well-being of their campus community, AState is taking the next step in pandemic emergency plans by significantly restricting  University Housing only to those who:

  1. Have no other room/board options.
  2. Do not have ready access to computers or the internet away from campus.
  3. Would be at risk for significant personal or financial harm away from campus.

To remain on campus, students must petition to stay in University Housing after April 3.

Read the full release from the chancellor here.


4:50 PM

Jonesboro mayor closes playgrounds in parks

The mayor announced that he is closing the playground equipment at local parks after seeing so many on Thursday not observing social distancing at Craighead Forest Park. The mayor said he would take further measures if people did not distance responsibly this weekend.


Jonesboro parks open only for trails

Effectively immediately, Jonesboro parks will be open for trail use only, Mayor Harold Perrin announced Friday afternoon.

Other facilities, including playgrounds, pavilions and the remainder of the city’s 20 parks, will be closed until further notice as the City works to deter the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Other cities around the state have already closed their parks entirely,” Perrin said. “And I hate to do it because one of the CDC best practices is getting exercise. But I saw the crowds gathered at Craighead Forest Park on Thursday with my own eyes.

“We received many calls and emails about it, and even when confronted by park officials, many people refused to disperse. That is irresponsible, and disrespectful to the people using the parks appropriately.”

Perrin said this weekend will be a measure of whether a decision to close the parks entirely.

“If people don’t obey the governor’s mandate, we will have no choice but to close even the trails,” he said.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s mandate limiting public gatherings to 10 people or less went into effect Friday. Prior to that, the governor and Perrin had recommended the limit. Now it is law that the Jonesboro Police Department will enforce.

“I would hope people will be responsible enough that we don’t have to write any citations,” JPD Chief Rick Elliott said. “But we will do what has to be done to protect our community.”

Also on Friday, Perrin called state Department of Health and local hospital officials to try to understand why official statistics regarding Jonesboro and Craighead County did not change this week.

“We’ve been told four of 10 cases reported to the Arkansas Department of Health have tested positive,” Perrin said. “But our hospital officials tell us they have been sending test kits to labs for three weeks, and from what I understand, the numbers reach into the hundreds.

“Because the labs are overwhelmed with tests that need to be run from all over the state, the delay in early results has been significant. I have been assured that more labs are coming online and all our tests will be processed soon. I am eager to see that happen.”


This story will be updated throughout Friday, March 27, 2020. Please check back/refresh to find the latest updates and information. 

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