Governor urges social distancing as state cases rise to 218

(03/24/20) Governor urges social distancing as state cases rise to 218  At Governor Asa Hutchinson’s press conference today, March 24, 2020, he and members of his task force reported that the number of COVID-19 cases has risen to 218, up from 174 at the time of the previous press conference. There have also been two reported deaths in the past 24 hours, including an individual in their 50’s and another above the age of 80. 

Garland County has an additional confirmed case and is up to a total of 10. 

Among the active statewide cases, there are 11 children, 134 adults (ages 19-64) and 73 older adults (ages 65 and older). There have been 14 hospitalizations with six patients needing ventilators. There have been 10 confirmed cases that have recovered. 

Even with the numbers rising, health officials have told the governor that this is the "calm before the storm," and that Arkansas is still on the front end of the coronavirus pandemic.

Arkansas Department of Health Director Nate Smith shared important items regarding COVID-19:

  • Funerals: although we need to honor and remember lost loved ones, funerals can also be a time that the coronavirus can be spread; consider ways that would be less likely to spread COVID-19, such as outdoor ceremonies
  • Smoking risk: smoking is proving to be a significant risk factor for serious illness with COVID-19; now would be a great time to quit smoking; online resources are available to help, including 
  • Employers guidance: whereas some employers were under the impression that employees should be tested before being allowed to work, the recommendation is to screen employees on a daily basis for symptoms of COVID-19, and to take temperatures if possible

Social distancing was also reiterated as a crucial element to flattening the curve of infections. Youth, who may not fully understand the risk associated with this pandemic, can not only be effected personally, but can help the spread of the virus if they do not practice social distancing. Although information is not available for exact locations of those who have tested positive, everyone should consider any public space as having the possibility to harbor and spread the virus.