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story.lead_photo.caption Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks at a news conference on Thursday.

5:10 P.M. UPDATE: Virus cases rise to 349 in state

The number of known positive coronavirus cases in Arkansas increased by 14 late Tuesday afternoon, according to the state Department of Health website.

Earlier Tuesday, the number of known positive cases in the state was 335, according to the website.

4:30 P.M. UPDATE: 3rd person to die of virus linked to Greers Ferry church

The pastor of Greers Ferry First Assembly of God Church, which has experienced an outbreak of covid-19, has confirmed that the third person to die from the virus in Arkansas was a member of that church.

Mark Palenske said Thursday that the member was a retired man. He declined to release the man's age or name, and said the decision to do so would rest with his family.

The second person to die, Bill Barton, was also reportedly a church member.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, the Greers Ferry pastor noted that the count of those connected to the church who have since tested positive for covid-19 is now 37. Palenske said since then that there have been no more new cases and that there are two members remaining who are awaiting test results.

Health Secretary Nate Smith said two counties reported their first cases Thursday, Lonoke and Randolph.

Of the 335 cases, 14 are children, 213 are adults 19-64 and 108 are 65 or older.

Smith said 13 people are known to have recovered from the illness so far in Arkansas. The state is asking those who have recovered to donate plasma, Smith said, because infusing a critically sick patient with plasma from someone who has recovered is “one of the most promising” treatments.

3:26 P.M. UPDATE: 3rd person dies of virus in state; gov announces $116M plan to support health care providers

A third individual has died of covid-19 in Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Thursday at a news conference where he also announced a $116 million plan to support health care providers in the state during the coronavirus outbreak.

The total number of known positive coronavirus cases remained at 335 as of the 2:30 p.m. news conference. Health Secretary Nate Smith said a third person died in Central Arkansas but did not give any additional information.

The number of individuals known to be hospitalized with the illness more than tripled from Wednesday to Thursday, Smith said, from 12 to 41.

The number of people on ventilators also more than tripled from 4 to 13.

Smith said part of the increase can be attributed to improved methods for collecting such data from hospitals.

[Video not showing up above? Click here to view » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiTA2fTUaZo]

The number of cases connected to nursing homes also increased, Smith said, with one additional resident in The Waters of White Hall and one additional worker at Briarwood Nursing and Rehabilitation testing positive.

The $116 million plan includes funding for capital improvements at health care facilities, such as building isolation units.

It also includes funding for workplace safety and training improvements, for expansion of telemedicine, for payments to support nurses and for support to facilities serving large populations of those infected, including those who serve the homeless.

About $91 million for the plan is expected to come from federal money.

1:06 P.M. UPDATE: Positive covid-19 cases rise to 335

The number of known positive covid-19 cases in Arkansas rose to 335 Thursday afternoon, an increase of 25 since numbers were last updated by the Health Department in the morning.

One additional person was listed as having recovered, bringing the total to 13. Deaths remained at two.

11:31 A.M. UPDATE: Arkansas says travelers from N.Y., international locations should self-quarantine

Passengers wear face masks to fend off coronavirus as they wait in line to check in for their flights, Tuesday, March 24, 2020, at JFK airport in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Passengers wear face masks to fend off coronavirus as they wait in line to check in for their flights, Tuesday, March 24, 2020, at JFK airport in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The state Department of Health is recommending that travelers coming to Arkansas from any international location or New York self-quarantine for 14 days as the number of coronavirus cases increases worldwide.

The guidance from the department comes after the White House issued the same recommendation earlier this week for travelers leaving New York, which has more than 30,000 known positive cases, according to the New York State Department of Health.

Self-quarantine, Arkansas officials said, means an individual should not leave the home for any reason including going to work or the grocery store. The person should stay in a room away from other household members and should wear a mask and stay six feet from others if access to a common area is necessary.

Visitors should not come to the home, the department said, noting the traveler's hands should be washed and sanitized often.

If a person begins to show symptoms of the illness tied to coronavirus, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, the individual should call a doctor for guidance.

If emergency care is needed, the individual should call 911 and tell dispatchers about the possible covid-19 exposure and subsequent self-quarantine, the department said.

9:54 A.M.: Two new cases reported

The number of positive cases of covid-19 crept up overnight to 310 as of Thursday morning, according to the state Department of Health.

The department had reported 308 cases Wednesday night.

Two people have died of the illness so far in Arkansas, and 12 have recovered.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is set to speak on the response to the spread of coronavirus at 2:30 p.m.

Arkansas' covid-19 cases by county



legend 0 25 50 75 100 Number of confirmed cases

Source: Arkansas Department of Health

[Interactive Arkansas map not showing up above? Click here to see it: arkansasonline.com/arvirus]

Check back later for live video of the governor's briefing and additional updates.

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