March 18, 2020
Hot Springs Police Department lobby closed due to COVID-19
[In the interest of public safety and the health of our employees, the Hot Springs Police Department has decided that due to the recent Coronavirus threat, we have enacted the following temporary measures to help stop the spread of the virus.]
The Hot Springs Police Department lobby will be temporarily closed. If you need to speak with an officer, there is a call button inside the foyer and one of employees will assist you.
If you need an accident or incident report, you can call 501-321-6789 and ask to speak with a Records Clerk or you can fill out a form that will be provided in a box in the foyer and leave it in the box. Our Records Clerks will email or fax it to you in a timely manner.
For non-emergency calls, please continue to call 501-321-6789 and for emergency calls, call 911 and we will send an officer to your location.
We ask for everyone to be patient and have understanding during this unprecedented time, we will continue to provide the best service to our citizens. Thank you for your understanding in this matter.
March 18, 2020
Proclamation of Emergency issued for Hot Springs
In addition, the Board of Directors adopted an Ordinance at their March 17 meeting delegating additional powers and authority to the City Manager, including the following:
- To contract purchases or services up to $1 million, provided such purchases are in the adopted budget or are in response to an emergency expenditure in response to the pandemic
- To establish a curfew
- To cancel, postpone, reschedule, move, reconvene or make accommodations for any public meeting
- Manage the in-person, face-to-face interaction between the City’s employees and the public at large by any means he determines reasonable and warranted within the guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control
The Proclamation of Emergency follows similar such emergency actions declared by the president of the United States, the governor of Arkansas and the Garland County Judge.
As of the afternoon of March 18, the Arkansas Department of Health has confirmed 33 cases of COVID-19 within the state, with two being residents who are self-quarantined in Garland County. The City Manager has been among the city and county leaders, health professionals and first-responder representatives to cooperatively plan and respond to the pandemic. Multiple drive-thru evaluation clinics are being established, as well as a local call center, which are among the mitigation efforts.
March 18, 2020
UPDATED PRESS RELEASE FROM GARLAND COUNTY DISTRICT COURT
[Garland County District Court will continue to operate its essential court functions. All cases through April 3, 2020, shall be continued effective immediately pursuant to the schedule set forth at the end of this Press Release. Please consult the schedule before calling the Court Clerk’s Office as the Clerk’s Office is handling a high number of calls during this time.]
Unless the County Judge closes the Courthouse, the District Comi Clerk’s office will remain open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to answer calls and assist in re-scheduling your cases.
Persons making monthly payments will still be able to make their regular scheduled payment in person. In order to avoid long lines and the risk of exposure to COVID-19 virus, we strongly encourage you to make payments online at https:// pay.arcourt s.gov . You can also mail a cashier’s check or money order to the address listed above.
The Jail Docket for those persons arrested on new charges will continue to be held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday via Video Conference, but the courtroom will ONLY be open to essential court personnel.
Court dates and case information for your case can be found online at: https://caseinfo.arcourts.gov
RESCHEDULING OF CASES SET FOR MARCH:
Original Date New Continued Date
March 17---------------- April 14
March 18---------------- May 20
March 19---------------- May 21
March 20---------------- April 17
March 23---------------- April 20
March 24---------------- April 21
March 25---------------- April 22
March 26---------------- April 23
March 27---------------- April 24
March 30---------------- April 27
March 31---------------- April 28
April 1------------------- June 3
April 2------------------- June 4
April 3-------------------June 5
We appreciate your patience through this process and apologize for any inconvenience. We are taking these precautions to ensure your safety and the safety of our comi personnel. Please understand, your safety is our top priority. We will be issuing new Press Releases should any changes occur.
March 18, 2020
SOUTHERN AIRWAYS POLICIES REGARDING COVID-19
[Pompano Beach, Florida -- Southern Airways today announces the most customer-centric policy in the industry for flight changes needed as a result of Covid-19, the “novel Corona virus.] With the understanding that travel within the national air transportation network is a matter of critical importance to the health and safety of America’s citizens, all change fees, effective today, will be suspended through April 15th on all Southern flights, regardless of fare class or date purchased.*
Even customers in the basic economy fare will be able to cancel and rebook flights for any published Southern Airways fare. In addition, passengers may change the route of travel, the day of travel, or the passenger traveling. “These are unprecedented times for our nation, our customers, and our employees,” said Stan Little, Chairman and CEO of Southern. “We are doing everything possible, within reason, to accommodate the needs of the American people and our team members.”
“First and foremost in this effort is the health and safety of everyone traveling. We are re- doubling our efforts to clean all surfaces between flights and to ensure that our customers travel in the safest environment possible. At Southern Airways, you will never fly with more than eight other passengers and two crew, so opportunities for exposure are extremely limited. Moreover, our flights do not exceed 10,000 feet in altitude, so pressurized air is never pumped into the cabin.”
Most of our hometowns have thus far proven very resilient to the virus in comparison to other areas of the country. So long as the government allows unrestricted domestic travel to continue, Southern Airways will serve the people of our 31 cities as we have done since 2013.
*Differences in fares will continue to apply.
March 18, 2020
Animal Services closing lobby due to COVID-19
[In response to the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control relating to social distancing to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the lobby of the City of Hot Springs Animal Services will be closed to customers until further notice starting on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.]
Individuals interested in adopting or looking for lost pets can view the animals from the outside kennels or look on the Animal Services Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/HotSpringsAnimalServices/).
To adopt or reclaim pets, call Animal Services at 501-262-2091 for assistance. To fill out paperwork on adopted or reclaim animals, one person will be allowed in the lobby at a time.
All other Animal Services business will be conducted as usual with precautions.
Tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Animals and COVID-19:
“In the United States, there is no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets, livestock, or wildlife, might be a source of COVID-19 infection at this time. However, because all animals can carry germs that can make people sick, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals.
• Wash your hands after handling animals, their food, waste, or supplies.
• Practice good pet hygiene and clean up after pets properly.
• Take pets to the veterinarian regularly and talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about your pet’s health.
For more information, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website (https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/) .
If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed), you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. This can help ensure both you and your animals stay healthy.
When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. Avoid contact with your pet including, petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them. For more information visit: What to Do if You are Sick (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html).”
March 18, 2020
Utility Billing Services opens service window and urges use of alternate payment options
[In response to the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control relating to social distancing to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the lobby of the City’s Utility Billing Services (UBS) location, 517 Airport Road (Suite C) is closed to customers.] Payments and other services are being provided through a service window, and customers are also encouraged to consider using the online payment portal, pay-by-phone, drop-box locations or pay by mail.
“We understand that some of our customers prefer to pay their bills, open accounts and access other services in person with our friendly staff,” said Randy Outler, UBS director. “Customer service is always a top priority for us. We believe this new service window option will balance that priority with the importance of keeping our staff safe.”
Outler said that quick service needs, such as making a payment, can be handled at the window. Other needs may require scheduling a phone consultation.
To pay online, visit www.cityhs.net/UBS and click on the “Utility Billing Services Login Page” link.
Payments are also accepted over the phone by calling 1-888-242-6632. Phone payments can be made 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, using VISA, MasterCard, Discover or eCheck. There is no additional charge to utilize this option.
To pay by mail, simply return the bottom part of your bill along with your payment (check or money order; do not send cash) to Hot Springs Municipal Utilities, P.O. Box 3830, Hot Springs, AR 71914-3830.
Pay by check (please do not use cash) at any of the three drop box locations below. Payments will be credited to your account on the next business day.
- Parking lot at our office, 517 Airport Road
- Parking lot at 111 Opera Street near City Hall
- In front of the airport terminal building
March 17, 2020
Task force developing drive-thru COVID-19 clinics
[Preparations are being made for drive-thru clinics for patient evaluations, as well as a local COVID-19 hotline, in Hot Springs and Garland County as a part of unified efforts to locally mitigate the nationwide outbreak.]
More than 20 first-responder representatives with the area task force met again today, Tuesday, March 17, at the Central Fire Station. The group includes Garland County Health Officer Dr. Gene Shelby; City Manager Bill Burrough; Garland County Judge Darryl Mahoney; Bo Robertson with Garland County Emergency Management; Chris Rowland of the Garland County Health Unit; as well as representatives from CHI St. Vincent, National Park Medical Hospital, LifeNet, Hot Springs Police and Fire departments, United Way and others.
Preparations for multiple drive-thru clinics are being established, including in Hot Springs and Hot Springs Village, to evaluate patients who are experiencing respiratory and flu-like symptoms. These triage clinics are for informational and evaluation purposes, helping lessen the spread of this highly contagious virus.
As the drive-thru options are made available, more information will be distributed regarding location, hours and services being provided. Providers wanted to stress the importance, however, of those with mild to moderate symptoms to self-quarantine and stay at home. Health-care providers at such clinics will be limited to checking fever and other vital signs and symptoms associated with possible respiratory illness. There are currently no on-site tests available for COVID-19.
“An important question to ask yourself before you come to the hospital or your doctor’s office is, ‘How sick am I?’ COVID-19 is a virus with specific treatment regimen, so in most cases it is just supportive care,” said Dr. Ross Douglas, president of CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs. “We have emergency plans for these types of situations, and our plans are working well. But it is important that we limit exposure and protect our health-care providers – nursing staff, doctors, and so on – particularly as Hot Springs is an access point for many of the smaller communities in southwest Arkansas.”
Dr. Shelby shared the statewide COVID-19 hotlines as another option for area residents to get answers to questions regarding the virus. The Arkansas Department of Health hotline is 501-661-2136, and the number for the hotline at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is 800-632-4502. The task force laid the groundwork for the establishment of a local hotline.
The health of area citizens is taking primary importance, yet as Hot Springs is the state’s most popular tourist destination and relies on income from events, conferences and travelers from across the U.S., it is impossible to not recognize the economic impacts.
“As we support the ongoing health crisis, we must also work on the economic crisis at the same time, and it’s a tight rope,” said Judge Mahoney, who signed a Disaster Emergency Proclamation on March 16 in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The proclamation will help the county qualify for reimbursements on qualifying purchases for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other coronavirus-related expenses.
Robertson encouraged all area businesses to respond to a request for losses related to the virus, which will be coming through the Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce email list soon with a link to a spreadsheet to submit to the state. The more who participate, the clearer picture the state will have as far as the impact thus far from the coronavirus.
“Our first priority is the health and safety of our community, and we are working to that end. However, we are very concerned for the economic health of our local businesses and City government as well. March is the busiest month of the year for Hot Springs, which equates to higher sales tax revenues to allow the City to fulfill its services to our community,” said City Manager Burrough. “We have no property taxes, so we rely primarily on sales tax revenues, but this certainly is not just effecting our City government. Many of our businesses are already experiencing huge losses from the decline in visitors and patrons.”
Of course, the economic impact will effect owners and employees alike. The United Way of the Ouachitas (UWO) hosted a meeting Monday, March 16, to discuss how area organizations are collaborating to assist those in need as our community traverses the coronavirus outbreak. The Hot Springs online resource guide (https://hsresourceguide.org) and the Charity Tracker (https://ouachitas.charitytracker.net) were both promoted as great tools for the organizations and members of the public to utilize.
“I think Charity Tracker is going to be very important as we begin to navigate the aftermath of COVID-19,” said Sarah Fowler, UWO executive director. “If you are a non-profit, city, county, school, church entity, HR manager, and you are not already on Charity Tracker, you should strongly consider becoming a part of this tool. We are more than happy to set up appointments to train and get anyone up and running.”
Fowler also reminds everyone to call area organizations in advance before possibly making an unnecessary trip as many organizations are currently working with smaller staff and are open shorter hours for virus mitigation. She also encourages anyone experiencing hardship with paying utility bills to reach out to their providers and work out a payment plan.
As a reminder, public health officials continue to stress the importance of washing hands often, keeping social distance, staying home when sick and disinfecting surfaces often. For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.
March 13, 2020
Task force monitoring COVID-19
[A task force has been formed in Hot Springs with representatives from the city, county and state, as well as public safety and health officials.] The group has been regularly meeting to assess the most current coronavirus (COVID-19) information and its impact on our citizens and visitors in an effort to make appropriate and timely decisions.
“It is imperative that we, as individuals, take all necessary precautions given our personal health status as we receive additional information on the impact of the coronavirus on various age groups and those with compromised immune systems,” said Hot Springs Mayor Pat McCabe. “Individuals should adjust their activities and the timing of those activities accordingly.”
Mayor McCabe has been a part of the task force meetings, which have been headed by Dr. Gene Shelby, medical consultant, Garland County Health Unit, and included City Manager Bill Burrough, Garland County Judge Darryl Mahoney, Visit Hot Springs CEO Steve Arrison, Hot Springs Fire Chief Ed Davis, Garland County Emergency Management Bo Robertson, Garland County Undersheriff Jason Lawrence and others.
“We need to take the appropriate actions to safeguard our community and our visitors, and we want to do that with the latest information available,” said Judge Mahoney. “This is a very fluid situation. We are staying in contact with public health officials on a daily basis and will act accordingly, being sure to stay within the guidelines of the Arkansas Department of Health.”