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As virus cases rise to 62 in state, gov sets new restrictions, extends school closures

by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | March 19, 2020 at 3:56 p.m.
Arkansas health secretary Dr. Nate Smith talks alongside Gov. Asa Hutchinson, right, at a news conference on Thursday.

3:55 p.m. UPDATE:

As known positive cases of covid-19 in Arkansas soared to 62 on Thursday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced new measures to limit what he said was “increasing community spread” of the illness.

The jump to 62 represents an increase of 16 from the 46 positive cases reported earlier in the day Thursday.

Hutchinson did not immediately specify how many of the new cases are from community spread, the term for cases acquired from an unknown origin rather than travel or a previously known case.

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New measures the governor announced include closing schools for in-person instruction until April 17 and closing restaurants and bars across the state for dine-in service. Carryout, curbside pickup and delivery will be allowed to continue. Little Rock announced the same initiative for local restaurants and bars earlier Thursday. The restrictions on restaurants start Friday and will continue until further notice.

The governor instructed most state government employees to work from home. Healthcare providers are required to screen all visitors and staff for fever and symptoms upon arrival at a facility.

The governor also ordered all “indoor venues,” including gyms, closed to visitors and those not providing essential services.

Health Secretary Nate Smith said that of the positive cases, 41 are adults ages 19 to 64, 15 are people over 65 and six are children.

The counties with one to four positive cases according to the health department are Bradley, Clark, Cleveland, Craighead, Desha, Faulkner, Garland, Grant, Independence, Lincoln, Poinsett, Pope, Saline, Searcy, Sevier, Van Buren and Washington counties.

Cleburne, Jefferson and Pulaski counties are reported by the department to have 10 or more cases each.

— Nyssa Kruse


Nine more Arkansans have tested positive for the coronavirus, with cases reported for the first time in Van Buren, Pope and Grant counties, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

The new cases increased the state's total to 46.

A map on the Health Department's website indicated that at least one of the new cases was in Cleburne County, which was listed as having five to nine cases. As of 7:34 p.m. on Wednesday, the map showed the county as having one to four cases. The map and the state total were updated at 10:23 a.m. today.

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Pulaski and Jefferson counties are the only ones in the state listed as having 10 or more cases. Van Buren, Pope, Grant, Washington, Faulkner, Saline, Garland, Cleveland, Bradley, Lincoln and Desha counties were each listed as having one to four cases.

Check back for updates and read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

— Andy Davis


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