Arkansas - COVID-19 Covered

Arkansas

Total Cases: 44,597 (August 4)
Tests Administered: 527,400 (August 3)
Fatalities: 475 (August 4)
Testing:
  • Information on COVID-19 testing in Arkansas can be found here.

ECONOMIC RESPONSE

Essential Service Designations:

  • Governor Hutchinson announced some nonessential out-patient medical procedures can resume on April 27. (April 22)
  • Governor Hutchinson issued an executive order directing commercial lodging and short-term rentals, such as hotels, motels, and vacation rentals, to only permit certain types of guests in order to protect public health during the COVID-19 crisis. (April 4)

Labor & Workforce Guidance, Standards and Regulations:

  • Governor Hutchinson issued an executive order that will require employers to pay for medical care and provide time-off pay for workers who test positive for COVID-19. (June 15)
  • Governor Hutchinson announced a temporary waiver of the requirement to search for a new job while receiving unemployment. (April 17)
  • Governor Hutchinson directed the Arkansas Department of Commerce to expedite unemployment benefits to assist employees impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and directed the Department of Commerce to waive current work-search requirements for 30 days and to allow unemployed individuals to apply for benefits online or by telephone rather than in person to minimize the risk of exposure. (March 17)

Economic Stimulus & Relief:

  • Governor Hutchinson issued an executive order creating the Governor’s Economic Recovery Task Force, which will develop an industry-specific strategy and provide recommendations for the state’s economic recovery. (April 18)
  • Governor Hutchinson announced the Arkansas tax filing deadline for individuals will be moved to July 15 and that he will call a special session of the legislature to deal with budget shortfalls tied to the coronavirus pandemic. (March 23)

Business Support & Resources:

  • Governor Hutchinson issued an executive order granting all businesses and their employees immunity from civil liability as a result of exposure to COVID-19. (June 15)
  • Governor Hutchinson announced the state legislature approved $55 million in funding for the Arkansas Ready for Business Grant Program to help businesses reopen and provide them assistance to ensure health and safety standards for employees and customers. (May 4)
  • Governor Hutchinson announced the opening of the Arkansas Ready for Business initiative to aid small business owners recovering from financial losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. (May 1)
  • The state will allocate $12 million in Community Development Block Grant money to help relief and recovery efforts for companies and nonprofits. (March 18)
  • Additionally, Governor Hutchinson will use $4 million from his “quick-action fund” to provide bridge loans of up to $250,000 for mid-sized firms to make payroll and remain operational; loan priority will reportedly be given to “businesses critical to the state’s economy.” (March 18)
  • The Arkansas Economic Development Commission has established a $7 million loan program to provide assistance to businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. (March 17)

SOCIAL RESTRICTIONS

Reopenings:

  • Some police departments in Arkansas are refusing to enforce mask requirementseven within their departmentsciting political opposition and limited resources. (July 26) 
  • Governor Hutchinson issued an executive order mandating face coverings be worn in public. (July 16) 
  • The City of Rogers has implemented a mandatory mask ordinance. (July 7)
  • Governor Hutchinson signed an executive order allowing cities to implement mandatory mask ordinances. (July 3)
  • Governor Hutchinson said reopenings in Arkansas are “clearly on pause.” (June 25)
  • The states of New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey will reportedly require visitors from Arkansas to quarantine for 14 days. (June 25)
  • Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith will reportedly issue new guidance for face coverings, which require them to be worn in all indoor and outdoor settings where individuals are exposed to non-household members and social distancing of six feet or more cannot be assured. (June 19)
  • Governor Hutchinson announced visitation to long-term care facilities can resume July 1. (June 17)
  • Governor Hutchinson announced the state will enter Phase 2 of reopening the economy on June 15. Restaurants and businesses will be allowed to move to two-thirds capacity under Phase 2, but Arkansans should continue social distancing and wear masks. Larger indoor venues like theaters, museums, and funeral homes, as well as large outdoor venues like arenas and concert halls, will be permitted to have up to 100 people inside at a time. (June 15)
  • Governor Hutchinson announced that restaurant bars can reopen May 19 and free-standing or stand-alone bars can reopen May 26. (May 18)
  • Governor Hutchinson announced that all retail businesses in the state may reopen on May 18. (May 15)
  • Governor Hutchinson reportedly announced he will allow large venues such as arenas, stadiums, and theaters to reopen at one-third capacity, pending approval. If one-third capacity at these venues is more than 50 people, the venue must submit a plan to be approved by the Arkansas Department of Health. (May 10)
  • Governor Hutchinson announced that pools, splash pads, water parks, and swim beaches will be permitted to reopen with social distancing restrictions on May 22. (May 8)
  • Governor Hutchinson announced that dental services in Arkansas may resume on May 11. Governor Hutchinson also announced the state’s casinos will reopen at one-third capacity with social distancing measures in place on May 18. (May 7)
  • Governor Hutchinson lifted a temporary ban on recreational travel into Arkansas, but travelers from COVID-19 “hot spots” like New York, New Orleans, New Jersey, and Connecticut would still be prohibited from entering the state. (May 5)
  • The Arkansas Department of Health, in consultation with Governor Hutchinson, issued new guidance for faith-based organizations, which will allow places of worship to resume in-person services if they follow strict social distancing guidelines. (May 4)
  • Governor Hutchinson announced barber shops, tattoo parlors, body art schools, cosmetology establishments, massage therapy clinics and spas, and medical spas my resume operations on May 6, so long as they follow certain health and safety guidelines. (May 1)
  • Governor Hutchinson announced that gyms and fitness centers will be allowed to reopen on May 4, so long as they follow social distancing and safety measures. (April 30)
  • Governor Hutchinson announced Arkansas State Parks will begin a limited reopening of some facilities starting May 1, including campgrounds and visitor centers. (April 28)
  • The Arkansas Department of Health has stated individuals who have had “close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 or traveled from New York state or any international location within the last 14 days” should self-quarantine and remain inside their homes for 14 days. (March 26)

SCHOOL PLANNING

K-12:

  • Governor Hutchinson created a new task force to examine high school sports during the pandemic. (July 31) 
  • Governor Hutchinson announced a $10 million partnership with AT&T and T-Mobile to provide reduced-cost Wi-Fi access points for schools throughout the state. (July 27) 
  • Governor Hutchinson announced that he is committed to opening schools as planned on August 24. (July 21) 
  • Schools in Conway will mandate that masks be worn by students in the 5th grade and above. (July 9) 
  • Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key announced updated guidance for schools as they prepare to reopen for fall classes, including advising students to wear face coverings while riding the bus. (June 23)
  • Governor Hutchinson announced Arkansas plans to return to on-site learning in August. The plan, titled “Arkansas Ready for Learning,” will allow for “flexible” on-site instruction in the event schools need to return to distance learning due to a resurgence of COVID-19. (June 11)

State Higher Education:

  • A list of Arkansas colleges and universities planning to reopen in the fall can be found here. 

Giving Oportunities

April 20, 2020

Requesting medical supplies, including sanitizer, IV sets and masks for workers.

Produced by Marathon Strategies, an independent PR firm that delivers intelligent communications and research solutions. For information, email Phil Singer at COVID-19@marathonstrategies.com