April 15: 1,599 cases in Ark.; First COVID-19 death in Craighead County

On Wednesday, the first death in Craighead County from COVID-19 was reported by The Sun and Region 8 News. 

8:00 PM 

Confirmed cases in Arkansas: 1,599

Deaths: 34

Recoveries: 509

Active cases: 1,056

Total tested: 22,289

Source: ADH

8:00 PM 

NEA County Numbers:

  • Randolph County: 9 positive, 7 recoveries, 165 negative
  • Clay County: 1 positive, 0 recoveries, 70 negative
  • Cleburne County: 70 positive, 40 recoveries, 112 negative, 4 deaths
  • Craighead County: 40 positive, 18 recoveries, 382 negative, 1 death
  • Crittenden County: 122 positive, 27 recoveries, 633 negative, 2 deaths
  • Fulton County: 0 positive, 0 recoveries, 22 negative
  • Greene County: 6 positive, 3 recoveries, 345 negative
  • Independence County: 6 positive, 4 recoveries, 67 negative
  • Jackson County: 1 positive, 0 recoveries, 31 negative
  • Lawrence County: 11 positive, 0 recoveries, 110 negative, 1 death
  • Mississippi County: 7 positive, 5 recoveries, 52 negative
  • Sharp County: 2 positives, 1 recoveries, 20 negative
  • Don’t see your county? Click here to find it on ADH’s map.

8:00 PM 

United States: 637,359 positive

28,364 have died.

Global: 2,060,927 positive

134,354 have died.

Source: Johns Hopkins University

8 PM

New Arkansas cases by date

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 new tests have been performed each date.

Updated April 15. Courtesy Dr. Pat Carroll.

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

Updated April 15. Courtesy Dr. Pat Carroll.

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.

Federal judge blocks Arkansas order limiting surgical abortions

After the Arkansas Department of Health ordered abortion procedures be postponed except in emergencies, Arkansas abortion providers and the ACLU filed a legal challenge. On Tuesday, Federal Judge Kristine Baker said the restrictions were unconstitutional. Read more from CNN.

Workers comp for health care workers

An executive order signed on Tuesday by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will allow for first responders and front-line healthcare workers to file for workers’ compensation if they catch COVID-19 on the job.

The governor also issued a second executive order setting legal liability immunity for healthcare workers responding to a COVID-19 emergency.

“We don’t want them to worry about them performing their responsibilities in emergency circumstances about being sued.”

ASU discusses 2020 budget reductions

(Press release)

The collective impact of state budget reductions on the ASU System is currently $4.8 million between now and June 30. This includes a $2.35 million reduction for Arkansas State University. We asked each institution to develop a plan to reduce spending and minimize use of reserves for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Our six institutions have determined that at this time no employment reductions or use of reserve funds will be required to achieve the funding reductions for FY2020.

Arkansas State University in Jonesboro will achieve its budget cuts through reductions in travel, supplies and services, and utility expenses, as well as used of unused capital balances, unbudgeted Educational Excellence Trust Fund revenues, and “carry forward” funds from various departments.

The two-year institutions are implementing similar measures, as well as savings from unfilled salaried positions, reduction of contingency funds, and unused part-time labor.

Federal Funding

ASU System institutions have been allocated $15,250,867 under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act. The minimum allocation to be awarded for emergency financial aid grants to students is half the amount, or $7,625,433. Of those system totals, Arkansas State University in Jonesboro will receive $9,258,158 with $4,629,079 for emergency financial aid to students.

We have not yet received any of these funds.

We received limited guidance from federal officials regarding emergency financial aid for students but expect to have significant flexibility in distribution of the funds once they are received. Our financial aid teams are discussing options – ranging from room and board refunds to scholarships – and will communicate plans to students as soon as possible.

We still have no specific guidance or timing regarding funds for the institution. In the meantime, we’re proceeding with our spending cut plan for the remainder of the Fiscal 2020, as well as budget planning for Fiscal 2021. The federal funds will be less than the state budget cuts we are facing.

Budgeting for FY2021

ASU System institutions are preparing budgets for FY2021, and these will be considered by the ASU System Board of Trustees at its June 4 regular meeting.

System President Chuck Welch has asked chancellors to prepare budgets with no tuition or fee increases for fall 2020. Our institutions will not budget funds designated in Category C or D in the Revenue Stabilization Act. That total for the ASU System is more than $9 million, including almost $6 million for A-State. This is approximately a 10 percent reduction in state funding for FY2021.

$51 million for Arkansas airports in economic relief

(press release)

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for awarding $51 million in grants to Arkansas airports affected by the prevention of, preparation for and response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“These much-needed funds will help Arkansas airports continue operations, as well as support their employees and the businesses that rely on air transportation. These grants will ensure the viability of our airports once we’ve beaten the coronavirus,” the delegation said.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Actwhich recently became law with the support of the Arkansas delegationincludes $10 billion in economic relief funds for airports nationwide.

The CARES Act increased funding for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and eliminates the need for grant recipients to contribute a matching percentage of project costs. It also creates a new funding stream that allots money based on formulas that include number of annual boardings and the amount of debt and money in reserve for each airport.

US to halt funding to World Health Organization

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he will halt funding to the WHO. He said they mismanaged and covered up the spread of the virus after it emerged in China. The WHO is a UN agency founded in 1948 responsible for global public health. Read more from BBC News.

This story will be updated throughout the day on Wednesday, April 15 with coronavirus related headlines. Check back and refresh for the latest news.

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