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As the First War in Iraq began to ramp up, George H.W. Bush talked with Margaret Thatcher about some of his concerns with the (then) Iraqi leader and the (then) Iraqi military. Her advice to the American president: "This is no time to go wobbly."

Good advice in war.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson's daily press conferences have become Must See TV in this state, although we watch it on arkansasonline.com, via a link to YouTube. (Or does YouTube link to our website? Our ignorance of all things technical doesn't matter, as far as the information is concerned.)

This governor's daily briefings are so much more assuring than the president's. Not once did we see Asa Hutchinson dismiss a question as nasty or sarcastically say, "Gee, that's too bad" about a United States senator holding himself in self-isolation. When both these politicians retire from public office, one way or the other, their actions in the spring of 2020 will be in both ledes. Asa Hutchinson's articles will be very favorable.

The Arkansas governor has said the number of cases of coronavirus has increased to more than 200 here. As of yesterday's news conference, two people have died in Arkansas. You can bet there are many more walking around with covid-19 creeping around in their systems, And, to his credit, the governor has said over and again he expects the numbers to rise as more people are tested. (Not to put too fine a point on it, but when it comes to fighting this virus, The Wall Street Journal has found that many more Americans are more pleased with their state governments at this point than the feds.)

In other words, this is no time to go wobbly, Arkansas. If we care for our elders in the nursing homes, and if we care for our neighbors who might have underlying conditions, we will continue to keep our distance, wash our hands, and Lysol the heck outta everything.

The governor also has mentioned the need for a special session, and soon. Some of us suspected this was coming. Because with all these businesses shutting down, the state is bleeding red ink. That, and the state pushed back the individual tax deadline to match the new federal deadline: July 15.

Even conservative budgeting couldn't predict shuttered restaurants and tax extensions, which will likely leave the state in a $353 million hole this fiscal year. So the coming special session will be special indeed. Once in a lifetime special.

And although it's hard to call anything here "good news," perhaps next year's budget won't be as bad in Arkansas as certain alternatives. Jake Bleed, once upon a time an editorial writer around here, is now the state's budget administrator, and he tells reporters that things are going to get rough, but . . . .

"But we are taking our best month [tax month, April] and putting it on the front end [next fiscal year] and we've got a surplus already budgeted in before this all started, so there's some reasons why '21 may not be awful." Which is why state governments are smart to budget conservatively from the get-go. And that strategy is good for budgeting outside government, too.

At Monday's news conference of all these state leaders, Arkansas' Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith said five patients diagnosed with the covid-19 virus have recovered--the first to do so in Arkansas.

That's great news!

But not great enough. Keep your distance, wash your hands. Stay at home if you can.

Now is no time to let up. Or go, you know, wobbly.

Editorial on 03/25/2020

Print Headline: Good news is rare

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