WATCH: Virtual Town Hall with Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson

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Governor Addresses Statewide Response to Coronavirus Outbreak, Joined by State’s Health Director

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (NEXSTAR) – Tonight, we hosted a live virtual Town Hall meeting with Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.

The governor addressed the statewide response to the current coronavirus outbreak and was joined by Arkansas State Health Director, Dr. Nathaniel Smith.

Viewers were invited to submit questions to Governor Hutchinson and Dr. Smith via social media using the hashtag #AskAsa.

At the beginning of the Town Hall meeting, Governor Hutchinson said Arkansas is doing well with flattening the curve, but “if we don’t do the right thing it can jump out of control.” He stressed especially during Easter weekend that Arkansans need to take social distancing seriously.

Governor Hutchinson said that Arkansas is below the numbers projected at this time, and the projected peak is on April 24. Governor Hutchinson says the new cases that have come in have been stabilizing, and he is confident we will get through this. He is confident we will get through this but he urges Arkansans to remain vigilant in their social-distancing efforts.

Many questions were answered tonight including questions about masks, ventilators, recovery, money for unemployment, education system, and more.

Masks are essential during this time, but what do they specifically do and what kind should you wear? Healthcare professionals need to be wearing an N95 mask. N95 masks protect against airborne illnesses, and they are a higher-level method of protection. Governor Hutchinson says the rest of us should be wearing the cloth type mask. This doesn’t mean it will protect you from social distancing. You are still required to follow social distancing protocols when you are out doing essential things. This is only a source of control. The cloth mask is to be washed. The cloth masks are used to prevent you from spreading things around. It protects the outside from the in. A paper mask should be thrown away after each use.

If you are sick and need to go to the hospital Governor Hutchinson said you should call ahead and make sure the hospital knows you are coming, and you should call once you arrive so someone can come and assist you. The people who are taking care of those who are sick should be wearing proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) while taking care.

The state of Arkansas has over 500 ventilators in the state and only 40 people are on them at the moment. Governor Hutchinson expressed that we are helping our neighbors in Louisiana by giving them some of ours to help out in the hot spot area.

What does it mean when someone recovers from the virus? This was a question asked tonight during the Town Hall. Governor Hutchinson said the symptoms of the patient have to have symptoms be resolved for at least seven days and be without a fever for three. The patient is no longer a risk to others. Questions were asked about immunity as well. If the person can become immune to the virus. Dr. Smith said that there might be some immunity from it, but because the virus was unknown three months ago there isn’t much to tell.

Governor Hutchinson said people who filed for unemployment should be issued their check by the end of next week plus the extra $600 with the federal government plan. People asked Governor Hutchinson ‘why not quarantine those who are at risk?’ and his answer was we are all at risk, and you can’t quarantine over three million people because we need essential items and without those essential workers we wouldn’t have anything. Essential businesses that are still open are supposed to be following the virus protocol: Social Distance, Wear Masks and Gloves and Protect Yourself. Governor Hutchinson said this is working.

The virus has been shown to transfer only from people. Some people have been concerned that it can be transferred by insects like mosquitos. Is the virus season? This is a difficult prediction to make due to the unknowingness of the virus. Dr. Smith said they hope to have a vaccine soon incase there is another outbreak. Governor Hutchinson has expressed they will be stockpiling PPE supplies and be prepared just in case.

Many people have asked Governor Hutchinson what led him to the decision to close schools across the state of Arkansas. This wasn’t an easy decision for Hutchinson to make because he said there are parents that have to work and the school is sometimes kids’ safe place to go. Many parents are also scrambling to find daycares for their children. This was a reason that Governor Hutchinson kept daycares open. All daycares that are open have protective measures in place. The state is also making sure food is still available to kids. A lot of schools will still serve a variety of meals that kids can go to and pick up.

Governor Hutchinson has waived state testing and kids will advance to the next grade without state testing after completing AMI. Governor Hutchinson also said all seniors will graduate. Measures have been put into place for special needs students as well. Parents are to call superintendents and teachers.

Many summer camps have been canceled this year and people are wondering if all of them will be eventually. Governor Hutchinson said that it depends on the time the summer camp is held.

When will we be out of this? The number one question asked in tonight’s Town Hall. As stated before the optimistic view on this is the peak will be on April 24. Governor Hutchinson said he is confident we will get through this.

“Don’t let up and be strong,” said Governor Hutchinson.

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