Mayor Sanders updates on COVID-19

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Blytheville Mayor James Sanders held a press conference Monday on the third floor of the Blytheville Water Tower where he provided an update on local impact of COVID-19.

Sanders also continued to express that the city of Blytheville is not under curfew.

State Representative Monte Hodges (D-Blytheville) was also in attendance and he updated everyone on the Special Session the Arkansas state legislators had last Thursday through Saturday when the Senate passed Senate Bill 2 unanimously (35-0) and the House passed bill 1001 also unanimously (100-0). Governor Asa Hutchinson signed both of these bills Saturday night.

Officer of Emergency Management Wayne Reynolds stated the social distancing is helping. He added that the number of cases rising is to be expected with the increase in testing.

Reynolds mentioned that on March 20 he ordered 5,000 masks and 6,000 gloves. He stated the county has not received those but as soon as they are received he will distribute them to the agencies.

Police Chief Ross Thompson, along with Sanders, also addressed officers going to help out in the damage caused by the EF-3 tornado that hit Jonesboro Saturday.

A question was asked if the officers would be quarantined when they come back from Jonesboro.

Thompson stated no, they would not be quarantined because they went to Jonesboro unless they came in contact with someone who “may be suspected or has been tested positive” for having COVID-19.

He added, “So, no. The officers that are going over there or have gone over there have volunteered to step up. We sent a couple of groups over there now and I know Jonesboro appreciates it. We work so close with Jonesboro. We know many of these officers over there. We shared many experiences with them over there. So, we had to go help them in their time of need. And so no they will not be automatically quarantined. We will go through the same protocol when they come back as we would with any other officers working right here on the shift.”

Sanders mentioned that the city of Blytheville is a part of the second judicial district, which includes both Blytheville and Jonesboro.

Thompson also mentioned that four police officers are currently isolated after coming in contact with a person who has been tested for the coronavirus while working in Blytheville.

On Tuesday, Sanders sent an email to the city council that reads, “I've been in touch with Chief Thompson concerning the health of our officers and the possible exposure. It turns out the possible source has telephoned to report that her tests were NEGATIVE for COVID-19. The officers have shown no signs and will be returning to work. I also received a text this morning from Mayor Perrin thanking us for the assistance during their time of need. Our officers are back in Blytheville and doing normal operations. Thank you for your support and thoughts during these times.”

On Monday, Thompson also made clear that no business has been caught in violation of operating outside of the mandated guidelines. Thompson stated for the good of the community, however, if you see a business operating outside the guidelines to call so law enforcement can investigate.

Meanwhile, Blytheville Superintendent Bobby Ashley informed everyone that if students’ work needed picked up that the principals will be on each campus and can give them their children’s work. He also mentioned that he will be at the administration building everyday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also, that the district fed about 1650 students each day two weeks ago, and on Monday they only served 600 students. Ashley added they hope that meal pickup will increase as the week goes on. He added that meals will be served on all four campuses from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

For the full press conference you can watch it on the NEA Town Courier’s Facebook page,

Sanders stated he plans to hold Wednesday’s press conference at 3 p.m. and the NEA Town Courier will have it live on its Facebook page.