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COVID NEWS IN BRIEF: House staffer tests positive for covid | Festival, theater want proof of shots

July 31, 2021 at 4:12 a.m.
This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes covid-19. - Photo by NIAID-RML via AP

House staffer tests positive for covid

The Arkansas House of Representatives' staff was notified Friday about an employee testing positive for covid-19, a House spokeswoman confirmed Friday.

Lawmakers are expected to return to the state Capitol next week to deal with covid-related matters, starting with a meeting Tuesday called a Committee of the Whole.

"[O]ut of an abundance of caution there are other staff members currently working remotely as we evaluate what, if any, action should be taken," House spokeswoman Cecillea Pond-Mayo said Friday in a written statement.

The employee who tested positive and those who may have been in contact with that staff member "have informed us they have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19," she said. She declined to disclose the name of the employee who tested positive for covid-19.

"We are in communication with [the Arkansas Department of Health], following their guidance and continue to prepare for the special session next week," Pond-Mayo said.

-- Michael R. Wickline

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Festival, theater want proof of shots

Citing the status of the pandemic, "and particularly the rapid community spread of the delta variant here in Arkansas," the Acansa Arts Festival of the South will mandate proof of vaccination to attend all ticketed and free festival events over three weekends, Sept. 9-25. Festival organizers will except audience members who are not eligible to receive the vaccine, including children under 12.

The Argenta Community Theater will require proof of vaccination for audience members attending performances of its production of the musical "Pippin," Aug. 18-28, at the theater on Main Street in North Little Rock's Argenta District.

The theater "continues to be committed to the safety of our patrons, performers and staff," according to a news release. "No one wants to return to a shutdown and we must all do our part to prevent that from happening. We encourage those in our community who have not been vaccinated to do so."

Citing guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the theater will also encourage even those who have been vaccinated to wear masks when inside the theater, unless actively eating or drinking, and will make masks available free of charge at all performances.

Valid proof of vaccination includes an original vaccination card, a digital copy or a photograph of a covid-19 vaccination record.

-- Eric E. Harrison

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