Coronavirus in Arkansas: Governor announces 584 confirmed cases, 10 deaths; officials discuss state parks

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson, Dr. Nate Smith, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health, and other state leaders provided an update Wednesday afternoon regarding the state’s COVID-19 response.

Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that there were 584 cases of the coronavirus in Arkansas as of Wednesday afternoon.

That was an increase of 61 from the time of the news conference on Tuesday.

Of the 584 cases, 18 are children, 170 are ages 65 and older and 396 were adults ages 18 to 64 years old.

Of the cases, eight are pregnant women, 50 are diabetics, 40 have heart disease, 26 have chronic lung disease, 12 have chronic kidney disease, one has chronic liver disease and 18 are immuno-compromised.

Of the 584 cases, 84 are hospital workers and 51 are nursing home residents.

State officials say there are currently 56 patients in the hospital. Dr. Smith said that was down eight from the day before.

Both the governor and secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health said 25 people were on ventilators.

According to Dr. Smith, since the first coronavirus case was reported in Arkansas, 90 people total have been hospitalized and 25 people have been on ventilators.

The governor also announced that two deaths due to complications from the coronavirus were reported within the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 10 deaths. According to Dr. Smith, both of the victims reported during Wednesday’s press conference were aged 65 and older. At least one of the deaths reported Wednesday was from central Arkansas, and at least one had underlying health conditions, according to Dr. Smith.

The governor and Stacy Hurst, Secretary of the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, also discussed recommendations for state parks.

Both the governor and Stacy Hurst announced the recommendations for parks to move to daytrip use only, eliminating overnight stays.

Secretary Hurst said the daytrip use only will begin Friday, April 3. This is consistent with 28 other states, according to Hurst.

Hurst also said additional measures that will be put in place is to designate there will only be on-site or approved parking. Some parks will be able to close gates when parking is full. Hurst says citations could be issued if people did not park in designated spaces. Cedar Falls Trail at Petit Jean State Park and both the East Summit and West Summit Trails at Pinnacle Mountain State Park will be closed.

Hurst said staff will work to education people on site, and park rangers will be deployed to highly-frequented parks.

For more on changes to the state parks, click here.

Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Commerce Mike Preston also asked Wednesday for Arkansans who were seeking the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation that was a part of the CARES Act, this would be for those who were self-employed, independent contractors and gig economy workers, to hold off of applying at the moment. Preston says the department is still awaiting guidance from the Federal Department of Labor and hope to have guidance later this week.

You can watch the full press conference above.

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