Arkansas COVID-19 cases up to 3,458 over weekend; guidance provided for places of worship and directives for outdoor/indoor venues

(05/04/20)  Arkansas COVID-19 cases up to 3,458 over weekend; guidance provided for places of worship and directives for outdoor/indoor venues  At Governor Asa Hutchinson’s daily COVID-19 press conference, the following updates as of 1:30 p.m. were shared:

  • 3,458 total confirmed cases (up 137 from 3,321 on Friday, May 1)
  • 1,362 active cases
  • 2,016 recovered
  • 118 confirmed cases in Garland County (from the ADH COVID-19 status page); 106 recovered
  • 91 COVID-19 patients in the hospital (down four)
  • 81 deaths (up 17)
  • 16 patients currently on a ventilator (down seven)
  • 245 nursing home COVID-19 cases (up 16); 147 staff (up five)

The governor’s announcements today regarding venues provided guidance for places of worship and a directive for large outdoor venues, both effective immediately, as well as a directive for large indoor venues, effective May 18.

The guidance for places of worship, in contrast to a directive, includes the following recommendations: online platforms still strongly encouraged; signs advising no entry if recent fever, symptoms or contact with positive patient; 6-foot distance among guests, except family groups, and 12-foot distance from audience and worship leaders addressing congregation or performing singers (who may remove masks while presenting/performing); face coverings worn at all times inside by anyone over 10 years of age; hand sanitizing stations at entrances, and distancing monitored in lines for entry/exit; meet-and-greet times moved outside as possible, and refreshments outdoors only; no physical contact, and elimination of the use of items touched by multiple people, like collection plates and shared books; a refrain from people coming forward to common alter railing for Holy Communion, blessings, or other instances; no classes for youth or childcare; and sanitization of common areas.

The directive for large outdoor venues, also effective immediately, involves facilities such as arenas, sports venues, race tracks, stadiums, amusement centers and fairgrounds. The directive includes the following stipulations: 12-foot distance between performers and audience; 50 or fewer performers/players/contestants, and an audience of 50 or fewer people; 6-foot distancing in seating, except for family groups; lines marked/monitored for distancing; every other row should be unoccupied; face coverings worn at all times by anyone over 10 years of age; signs should advise no entry if any symptoms or contact with positive patient; hand sanitizer stations at all entrances/exits; refreshments allowed, but no self-service; facility, including seating, cleaned before/after each use.

The directive for large indoor venues is effective May 18, and includes the same stipulations as those listed for outdoor venues. Examples of indoor venues include auditoriums, lecture halls, movie theaters, museums, arenas, sports venues, race tracks, funeral homes and bowling alleys. This directive does not include casinos, but the governor and Dr. Nate Smith said that guidelines for Phase One of casinos reopening should be announced soon with a target effective date of May 18.

Hutchinson also announced the application process for the Arkansas Ready for Business Grant Program, allowing a total of $55 million to assist all industry sectors in the phased reopening, will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 5-6. The application will be available at Grants will allow for $1,000 per full-time employee with a $100,000 cap per company. More than 15% of the overall pool will be designated for women- and minority-owned businesses, and more than 75% will be for businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Existing applications remain in consideration, and the application process requires only a driver’s license, signed W-9 and a certificate of good standing.