Gov. shares preparations for school

Friday, August 21, 2020

Gov. Asa Hutchinson was in Blytheville on Tuesday visiting Arkansas Northeastern College.

He met with community leaders, educators, county and city officials, hospital leaders, members of the business community and others before delivering  his daily press conference on the ANC campus. Also in attendance was State Rep. Johnny Rye.

Gov. Hutchinson expressed his appreciation to Dr. James Shemwell, ANC president, for hosting the event.

Gov. Hutchinson introduced Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, with the Department of Health.

He said it is exciting to see the preparations the schools are making to open next week.

“I know there are challenges but I am excited for the opportunity for the students,” Governor Hutchinson said.

He talked about the options of in-school and providing online classes to those who choose the alternative route due to Covid-19 and keeping all options open saying the state plans to make sure all students have access to online education if necessary.

He said the General Assembly had appropriated $24 million initially for rural broadband.

“Earle received the latest grant for $1.8 million to expand broadband to the hard to reach areas,” he said. “Multiple other grants have been allocated.”

He went on to say Mississippi County had been granted 380  hot spots for the schools in the county.

Gov. Hutchinson updated on the COVID-19 cases with 410 new cases over the last 24 hours, saying the number is down from the previous two days making a total of 53,487 cases. There have been an additional 16 deaths statewide, according to the figures he provided Tuesday.

“It is a reminder that this virus is serious and we need to protect ourselves,” he said.

The three counties with the most increases Tuesday were Sebastian, 44; Pulaski, 40; and Washington, 29. Mississippi County had five new cases and Crittenden had nine new cases.

The number of active cases has gone down but the hospitalizations have gone up slightly.

A comparison from Aug. 9 to Aug. 15 in the Northeast Region was released showing Craighead County up by 128 cases and Mississippi County up 115 cases.

“This shows Mississippi County has work to do,” he said.

Poinsett also has the highest percentage of new cases. Every rural area has cases.

Also, Gov. Hutchinson pointed out no one is immune from the virus and shared statistics for the week showing ages 0-17 went from 732 to 839, up 107; 18-34 up 13.7 percent and ages 65+ who are the most careful up by 14.1 percent.

He said they want to keep testing and stay on a downward course. Testing will give a good radar of the areas in cases going in the wrong direction. He also talked about watching the cases from border states.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha spoke briefly saying of the 410 new cases, 325 are community cases and 85 are from correctional facilities.

“Arkansas has had 619 deaths, that is 619 too many,” Dr. Dillaha said. “Each one had families and people who loved them and missed them.”

She pointed out it is a serious illness and should be taken seriously.

On a good note, she reported 46,970 people have recovered.

She said seeing how the community is working together to make it safer is good.

She spoke about testing and spreading the virus. She said it can take up to 14 days to become ill after a person has been exposed but most often it is five to six days. A person can spread the virus two or three days before having symptoms and that is why wearing face covering is important. It takes 10 days for bodies not to spread. People who are not sick enough not to be in the hospital, they need to stay in for at least 10 days, and those who have to be hospitalized they should stay in for at least  20 days.

“It is important for people to isolate as quickly as possible,” she said.

She talked about the PCR Test, which is a swab, the most accurate testing.

She said some commercial labs have had increased demand and it is taking longer to get results.

She then talked about a second type of test coming in the future called Antigen Test. It will be in clinics or offices and testing results can be within 15 to 20 minutes. It can only do one at a time. Negative tests might need to be backed up with a PCR but positive testing will let them know they have the infection and need to isolate right away.

She also talked about a third test, a blood test, the antibody test, to be taken two or three weeks after symptoms and will let people know they have had the virus.

Gov. Hutchinson took questions before closing the press conference saying it is great t be in Mississippi County and thanked everyone for the hospitality.