Arkansas COVID-19 cases surpass 1,000 on four-week anniversary of first case

(04/08/20) Arkansas COVID-19 cases surpass 1,000 on four-week anniversary of first case  At Governor Asa Hutchinson’s daily COVID-19 press conference, the following updates as of 1:30 p.m. were shared:

  • 1,023 total confirmed cases (up 77 from 946 on April 7)
  • 76 COVID-19 patients in the hospital (up two)
  • 30 patients currently on a ventilator (up four)
  • 18 COVID-19-related deaths (no change)
  • 208 COVID-19 patients recovered (up 56)
  • 147 healthcare workers with COVID-19 (up 14)
  • 68 nursing homes residents or staff with COVID-19 (up seven)

The federal correctional facility in Forrest City has no new cases, so the total of 29 remains unchanged. There are additional suspected cases, those with symptoms, who will be tested.

A total of 814 test results were received since yesterday, and the positivity rate was 6.6%.

Dr. Nate Smith, director of the Arkansas Department of Health, shared that the recent CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report outlined two family gatherings in Chicago – a funeral and birthday party – from which there were 16 COVID-19 cases and three resulting deaths. He encouraged creativity in risk-free ways to celebrate such family events.

Smith added that today marked the four-week anniversary since Arkansas’ first COVID-19 case. “There have been a lot of changes in our state. For the most part, people have done a very good job of social distancing,” he said. “That is very hard on us emotionally, I know. Many people are feeling socially isolated and may be feeling financially stressed, and may also be struggling with anxiety and depression.” We all need to think about our emotional health, practice self-care and reach out to others, he concluded.

Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said there have been more than 110,000 unemployment claims in the state so far, which he anticipates will continue to rise to somewhere around 150,000 by the end of this week. The Governor waived the requirement for those filing for unemployment to have to do it in person, so Preston urged use of the website –

Preston said that the first round of pandemic unemployment checks went out last night. This is the additional $600 from the CARES Act on top of the normal unemployment insurance checks from the state. Guidance was received on Sunday night regarding the pandemic unemployment assistance for independent contractors, freelancers and self-employed. This new program will require the build-out of a new system to process claims, but Arkansas is not unique in this challenge. It will probably be a three-week time frame, but payments will be able to be backdated. Those interested in SBA loans are encouraged to visit with their bankers.