Blytheville Mayor and other officials gives update on COVID-19

Saturday, March 28, 2020

BLYTHEVILLE— Blytheville Mayor James Sanders gave an update to citizens Wednesday afternoon about COVID-19, while also addressing questions and concerns that had stemmed from his press conference Monday.

As of the press conference Wednesday and as of press time Friday afternoon, no cases had been reported in Mississippi County.

Sanders stated the city is continuing sanitation services and will continue to do this as best as they can. He also added to put anything that could contain biofluids in plastic bags to helps keep sanitation workers keep safe.

Another topic the mayor addressed was unemployment.

Sanders said to call the Department of Workforce Services in Mississippi County, the DWS has offices in both Blytheville and Osceola, to obtain the information needed. He also added that the Federal and State Government is working to help with the people that are currently unemployed.

A question was asked if the city was going to have a curfew or be on lockdown.

Sanders added, “Some information has been reported or asked about our curfew and if there are curfews and what is going on.

Well, according to the proclamation put out by Governor Asa Hutchinson, it states that the Secretary of Health in consultation with Governor Hutchinson over all intenseness of quarantine, isolation and restriction of commerce and travel throughout Arkansas and based on evaluation and scientific evidence if it is necessary and appropriate to take further action in regards to the COVID virus. With all of that being said, it's based off of information that we received from the Arkansas Municipal League, who are our attorneys that govern all 500 cities and towns in the state, as well as also talking to our city attorney. Under that interpretation it is the governor who’d be able to provide or to restrict that type of movement and at this point he has not.”

Sanders said city officials have been in contact and listening to what the governor and the directors from the Arkansas Health Department and CDC are saying.

Mississippi County Health Unit Administrator Laura Thaxton said they have tested one to four people in Mississippi County for possibly having Covid-19, however, all of them came back negative.

Blytheville police chief Ross Thompson also announced that the Blytheville Police Department is still operating in an emergency mode and will do so until further notice. Thompson recommends citizens calling ahead before coming to the police department. He added service calls are down in the community. Thompson also added that everyone, besides one officer who was diagnosed with the common flu, is healthy.

Blytheville fire chief Mike Carney said the department is 100 percent healthy.

Superintendent of the Blytheville School District Bobby Ashley said starting Monday, March 30, the Blytheville Public Schools will be serving cooked meals for breakfast and lunch. According to Ashley, due to a health department requirement, the meals will be served at all four of the Blytheville campuses. Serving times will be 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Ashley added that children ages 0-18 will be served regardless if they are a student of the Blytheville School District or not. He mentioned they will also be feeding KIPP students as well.

Ashley also stated that certain staff members will be working until schools resume normal operations. These staff members will be checked every day and the school will be following CDC guidelines.

The superintendent also noted that the Blytheville School Board will still meet Monday night (March 30) via Zoom. According to Ashley, due to the Freedom of Information rules the School Board Room at the Administration Building will be open and the meeting will be projected on the screen.

Blytheville Humane Society manager Lisa Childress addressed concerns and questions about animals contracting COVID-19 or if they can be transmitted.

Childress said animals aren’t related to COVID-19. She also stated they could not be transmitted from animal to human.

She mentioned that the Humane Society has dog and cat food at the pantry and people can get food for the pets if the stores are out of them, due to people hoarding animal food.

Childress also mentioned the Animal Control and Humane Society is closed to the public but they can call Animal Control at 763-4411 or the Humane Society at 838-5512 to set up an appointment or answer further questions.

The mayor also held another press conference Friday afternoon to give any further updates on COVID-19. The press conference was after press deadline, however, Friday’s press conference along with the full Wednesday press conference is available on the NEA Town Courier Facebook page.