April 14: 1,498 cases in Arkansas; Furloughs announced by St. Bernards

1:30 PM 

Confirmed cases in Arkansas: 1,498

Deaths: 32

Active Cases: 1,024

Recovered: 444

Source: Arkansas governor during press conference, Sec. of Health

Updated Monday, April 13. Courtesy Dr. Pat Carroll

With help from Dr. Pat Carroll, D.D.S., NEA Report has begun to track new cases added by each date. So as not to skew the results, we’re also tracking how many total tests have been performed each date.

Finally, we’re tracking new cases in Arkansas in addition to currently active cases.

Updated Monday, April 13. Courtesy Dr. Pat Carroll

10 AM

NEA County Numbers:

  • Randolph County: 8 positive, 6 recoveries, 161 negative
  • Clay County: 1 positive, 0 recoveries, 66 negative
  • Cleburne County: 70 positive, 36 recoveries, 111 negative, 4 deaths
  • Craighead County: 36 positive, 15 recoveries, 358 negative
  • Crittenden County: 115 positive, 16 recoveries, 602 negative, 2 deaths
  • Fulton County: 0 positive, 0 recoveries, 21 negative
  • Greene County: 6 positive, 3 recoveries, 335 negative
  • Independence County: 6 positive, 4 recoveries, 66 negative
  • Jackson County: 1 positive, 0 recoveries, 29 negative
  • Lawrence County: 11 positive, 0 recoveries, 106 negative, 1 death
  • Mississippi County: 7 positive, 4 recoveries, 47 negative
  • Sharp County: 2 positives, 0 recoveries, 20 negative
  • Don’t see your county? Click here to find it on ADH’s map.

1:30 PM

United States: 592,743 positive

24,737 have died.

Global: 1,970,225 positive

124,544 have died.

Source: Johns Hopkins University

Hotline for positive patients

The Arkansas Department of Health has set up a hotline for individuals in our area who are COVID-19 positive but lack a safe place to be quarantined/isolated, Jonesboro Grants and Community Development Direction Regina Burkett said Monday.

Anyone in this situation should call the hotline number 501-614-5822. ADH has a process in place, and will determine what steps need to be taken, including providing transportation, for any individual who tests positive.

Suddenlink will offer Altice Advantage for K-12 and College Students through school year

press release

NEW YORK (April 13, 2020) – In light of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, Altice USA (NYSE: ATUS) today announces that it is extending its free student broadband and WiFi offerings until the end of the 2019 – 2020 school year to help students and schools stay connected to online teaching and learning.

In March, Altice USA began offering its Altice Advantage 30 Mbps broadband solution for free for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not currently have home internet access. Additionally, the Company has been partnering with school districts in the NY Tri-state area to offer the Student WiFi product at no cost for 60 days, a program that provides students who have school-issued devices the ability to use the Optimum WiFi Hotspot Network to access their school’s network and resources from home if they do not have dedicated Internet access. To date, Altice USA has partnered with more than 100 school districts and connected more than 240,000 student devices to its hotspot network as part of this effort.

As states and municipalities around the country announce permanent school closures for the rest of the school year, the Company has decided to extend these solutions until June 30, 2020, to ensure students have reliable access to high-speed broadband connectivity to learn during this unprecedented time. In addition to free broadband and WiFi, Altice USA has taken steps during this crisis to support customers and local communities. Specifically, the Company:

  • Joined the Keep Americans Connected Pledge, which provides relief to residental and business customers disrupted by the pandemic.
  • Opened up its Emergency Optimum WiFi outdoor hotspots for public use to nonsubscribers.
  • Is collaborating with large hospital systems, schools and government agencies to ensure they have the connectivity services they need to assist the public during this time, including waiving fees for first responders and other critical entities.
  • Is providing free airtime for public service announcements (PSAs) for a number of health and community organizations and government officials, with the goal of helping to educate customers about how to stay safe and healthy.
  • Made News12.com available to all to ensure all residents have access to what’s happening in their local communities, including school closures and local government press conferences.
  • Is delivering free previews of select networks, with live and On Demand content for everyone.

Additionally, Altice USA has rolled out programs to ensure the safety of our employees, including work from home for the majority of our teams, enhanced paid leave, and providing premium pay to customer-interfacing field and retail employees, contact center-based employees and News field teams. For more information on what Altice USA is doing to keep our employees safe and communities connected during this time, visit www.alticeusa.com/together .

Ag sector takes hit from pandemic

COVID-19 is hitting all industries across the globe and that includes one of Arkansas’ most important: the farming industry. A multi-sector economic impact report was released by UofA System Division of Agriculture. From the milk to protein industry, Talk Business & Politics reports on all of the challenges here.

Obesity one of the single biggest ‘chronic’ factors in New York City hospitalizations for COVID-19

The two biggest deciding factors in hospital admissions in NYC for those with COVID-19 are age – and obesity. In a large study, obesity was found to be the single biggest factor after age for those admitted to the hospital.

“The chronic condition with the strongest association with critical illness was obesity, with a substantially higher odds ratio than any cardiovascular or pulmonary disease,” write lead author Christopher M. Petrilli of the NYU Grossman School and colleagues in a paper.

Read more from ZDNet.

Craighead County revenue expected to plunge

Craighead County officials expect the COVID-19 threat to affect the county’s revenue stream for the year, possibly delaying projects in the process. Read more from The Jonesboro Sun.

11:30 AM

St. Bernard’s making cost-saving cuts that include furloughs

(press release)

Statement from CEO Chris Barber over Impact of COVID-19 on St. Bernards Healthcare

JONESBORO (April 14, 2020) – “As we prepare for a potential surge of COVID-19 patients in Northeast Arkansas, St. Bernards Healthcare stands ready to offer medical assistance to any person who needs it. The sober reality with COVID-19, however, is that to properly address the virus’s health component, economic norms must change, too. Many businesses across our country and state have added protections for their workers at additional expense while suffering the loss of revenue from routine sales and services.

“St. Bernards has always been a good steward of its available resources, but we are no different than other healthcare providers across our state in navigating this challenging environment. To fully comply with all state and federal mandates and guidelines, we have presently ceased elective procedures and surgeries while also closing several facilities. Furthermore, our patient volume at St. Bernards Medical Center and our outlying clinics have experienced an understandable, yet substantial, decline. Specifically, our health system overall has seen declines ranging from 35 to 70 percent. Finally, we have additional COVID-19 demands to best equip our healthcare workers for a potential surge.

“Consequently, our senior leadership made a collective decision to implement as many expensereduction measures as possible while protecting the integrity and safety of our healthcare system. Some of our temporary measures include management pay reductions, reduced hours and even more difficult, furloughs.

“We consider any individual facing these scenarios a valuable St. Bernards team member. Our decision has nothing to do with job performance or work importance, and we will assist all our team members any way we can.

“We greatly appreciate the community’s ongoing support and encourage a continuance of social distancing despite the difficult realities stemming from it.”

Chris Barber, President and CEO of St. Bernards Healthcare

Tuesday update from Arkansas governor at 1:30 PM

It will be streamed online, as usual, here: https://www.youtube.com/c/GovernorAsaHutchinson/live

12 PM

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Be Wary of Middlemen Promising Protective Equipment from Foreign Manufacturers

Rutledge says, ‘As with any business transaction, we should always be cognizant of deals that are too good to be true’

LITTLE ROCK – As state and local governments, hospitals and health care organizations, and businesses have worked to acquire personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect their employees and citizens from exposure, many middleman businesses have arisen to broker deals with foreign manufacturers in order to supply the desperately-needed equipment.  These brokers purport to offer NIOSH-approved masks, face shields and gowns in mass quantities but at inflated prices. Furthermore, many brokers cannot verify the quality of the products or the authenticity of their overseas sources.

“Just like law enforcement officers expect and depend on their body armor for protection, individuals shouldn’t have to be concerned about the legitimacy of the PPE that they are wearing,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As with any business transaction, we should always be cognizant of deals that are too good to be true. Buyers should do their due diligence to confirm the authenticity of the products prior to purchase and should report scam and price gouging suspicions to my office.”

Attorney General Rutledge provided the following tips in order to protect the public health and to avoid unintended consequences and financial losses:

  • When ordering PPE from online retailers, always verify the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) and confirm “https” in the web address, as a lack of a security certification (“https”) may be an indicator that the site is insecure or compromised.
  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Air purifying respirators approved by NIOSH are available at https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/topics/respirators/disp_part/default.html.
  • In particular, consult the NIOSH website to –
  • For further guidance regarding non-NIOSH-approved respirator masks that may qualify as approved, consult guidance from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) at https://www.fda.gov/media/136403/download.
  • If procuring other categories of PPE such as gowns, gloves, goggles, and face shields, consult the manufacturer to verify authenticity and availability.
  • Be wary of unprompted solicitations to purchase large quantities of PPE and do not provide usernames, passwords, personal identifying information (PII) such as social security number and date of birth, or financial information in response to an email or robocall.
  • Ask the seller for information about the manufacturer, its location and its reputation for manufacturing high-quality goods.
  • Check with the Secretary of State’s Office to determine if the broker is registered to do business in Arkansas and is in good standing.

To find out more information about COVID scams and fake websites, or file a consumer complaint visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.

Medical officials recommend wearing homemade masks to slow spread of COVID-19

(press release)
As COVID-19 continues to spread through our communities, medical officials are now recommending that individuals wear facial coverings while they are in public.

That recommendation is twofold: It can reduce your risk of contracting the disease over wearing nothing, but it can also reduce the risk of the wearer from spreading the disease if they happen to be sick and not know it.

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that up to 25 percent of those infected with COVID-19 may not experience symptoms of the virus – such as a fever, aches, shortness of breath and a dry cough – and therefore are unknowingly spreading the disease. Wearing a facial covering can significantly lower the risk of those who come into close contact with infected individuals, particularly those who are unaware they’re carrying the virus.

“If you happen to be sick and don’t know it, wearing a facial covering can lower the risk of you spreading the virus,” said Shane Speights, DO, Dean of New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University. “If you come into contact with somebody who is sick and they don’t know it, their mask can protect you from receiving the virus from them.”

Initially, the general public was discouraged from utilizing facial coverings because of the low supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) available to health care providers and those working in health care facilities. However, in recent days, the CDC has delivered guidelines for producing quality facial coverings from materials routinely found in the home. The homemade masks are the ones Speights recommends people wear as they visit the grocery store or pharmacy.

“The last thing you want to do is take a hospital-grade mask or an N95 mask from the people that are on the front lines in any aspect of health care and give it to someone who is just using it to wear when they go to the store,” said Speights, who is a family physician and serves as medical director for the City of Jonesboro. “We need those to ensure that our health care providers are protecting themselves. Now that we have good information about masks that people can create in their homes, I’m a big fan of utilizing those options.”

Common household materials, like cotton-based fabrics used in pillowcases and t-shirts, are acceptable to use to create facial coverings. The mask should be at least two-ply and thick enough that light doesn’t pass through it. The CDC recommends that all facial coverings be secured with ties or ear loops and allow for breathing without restriction. The covering should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face and should be laundered after each use. Patterns and models are available on the CDC website, CDC.org.

“My daughter recently made some for our family that took about 10 minutes to sew,” Speights said. “There are also models available that take less time than that and don’t require sewing. It’s not a difficult endeavor.”

Speights emphasized that facial masks should be treated as an additional practice to social distancing, hand washing and other directives that physicians and medical officials have been repeatedly advising in recent weeks.

“Just because you’re wearing something like this doesn’t mean you can ignore the social distancing practices that we’ve been emphasizing heavily,” Speights said. “You still need to stay six feet or more away from other people. You still need to stay home if you’re sick. You still need to wash your hands or use some sort of alcohol-based hand sanitizer regularly. This is just an added layer. You wear a mask in addition to all the other things you were already doing. It’s just a further step that can protect yourself or someone near you.”

This will be updated throughout the day with coronavirus related headlines on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. Check back or refresh for the latest.

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