Blytheville fireman back at work

Saturday, May 9, 2020

The Blytheville fireman tested for COVID-19 received a negative result and is back at work, according to Blytheville Fire Chief Mike Carney.

As of Friday afternoon, Mississippi County had 42 positive test results, 389 negative and 11 recoveries, while Craighead County had 92 positives, 1,593 negatives and 64 recoveries. Poinsett County had 25 positives, 236 negatives, 14 recoveries and two deaths, while the state of Arkansas had 3,694 cases of coronavirus, 2,159 recoveries and 88 deaths at press time. There is one active case in the 72315 zip code.

According to the Osceola Times, 21 residents and staff members of Harris Healthcare of Osceola have tested positive. However those at HHC have been retested, with several tests coming back negative, so this number is expected to decrease.

Meanwhile, during Blytheville Mayor James Sanders’ press conference Wednesday, State Representative Monte Hodges (D-Blytheville) addressed the issue of bank loans and what the state government is doing to help businesses. Also, Mississippi County Union Mission Executive Director Lisa Willard addressed what the Mission is doing with both delivering and donating food to area citizens.

Hodges said that the state of Arkansas has received a commitment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of 90,000 test kits to be provided in weekly increments. Hodges said Governor Asa Hutchinson and Secretary Nate Smith’s goal is to test 60,000 Arkansans in the month of May.

Also mentioned was that northeast Arkansas and southwest Arkansas are hot spots right now, with cities West Memphis, Texarkana, Forrest City and Jonesboro having high numbers of cases.

Hodges said the state of Arkansas opened up the Ready for Business grant application Tuesday morning. According to Hodges, the first round, which awarded $15 million, was completed in 30 minutes because of the number of applicants. The second round opened up Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. with $40 million and closed at 6 p.m. Wednesday. He stated there were already a number of businesses on the list and added that hopefully the state will allocate more funds.

Hodges stated the Ready for Business grants have a maximum of $100,000.

According to Hodges, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) numbers for round two were: 458 loans processed; $21,938,970 volume; $47,902 average loan size; 369 loans with an average loan size of $14,640. Totals for both rounds of PPP through April 30 were: 1,011 loans processed and $103.8 million volume.

Applying for the PPP loan or the Ready for Business grants are not a “cumbersome process,” according to Hodges, as it takes about 10 minutes.Hodges added, “Granted when I was here several weeks ago I told you that the speaker made mention this is an hour by hour process. It’s not a day by day process. It’s an hour by hour process; these things can change over night. We just want to use common sense. I don’t want to see us open the state up too quickly. The state of Arkansas has not peaked and we see the increase in numbers every day. We need to be cautious, continue to wear our masks, continue to sanitize and to wash your hands, continue to practice social distancing and don’t get out if you don’t have to get out.”

Willard stated that Mississippi County is blessed since there hasn’t been a shortage of food. She added the Mission gives out food boxes Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.; this is a USDA program. She added if needed they will be extending the time period.

“If there is anyone in Mississippi County that is in need, we can meet that need,” said Willard. “We are needing help if you’re available during those days to take the food boxes out to people’s cars. We’d be glad to have your help for that. Also, we are in need if there are some people that’d like to deliver food. There is a need in Blytheville where they do not have transportation to come to the Mission to pick up their boxes. So if you, an organization or someone that would be available during those times, those days we’d love to start some delivery.”

She also mentioned that they would also be trying to help citizens of Osceola and other parts of the county to receive food boxes.

When asked how to get on the list to help donate time or to receive the supplies, Willard stated to contact her at the Mission, (870) 763-8380, or by email at

Meanwhile, Blytheville Police Chief Ross Thompson stated the Police Department is still 100 percent healthy.

Both the police and fire departments are starting to take applications again to fill the positions.