Decrease in Covid cases

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Blytheville Mayor James Sanders reported a slight decrease in amount of active cases in Mississippi County in his Wednesday Covid report.

Down 19 cases from last week, the county now holds 448 active cases. Through the office of emergency management, Sanders also reported that the 165 cases were confirmed in the 72315 zip code.

However, the county also saw an increase in the percentage of citizens becoming fully vaccinated. The number rose from just under 35 percent to 39.8 percent in the past week.

Mayor Sanders continued to emphasize the importance of testing due to the treatment of monoclonal antibodies. Arkansas secretary of health Dr. José R. Romero stated in the governor’s report Covid cases requiring a hospital visit can be reduced by 75 to 80 percent with the monoclonal antibodies. However, patients must receive the treatment within 10 days of receiving a positive test.

State representative Monte Hodges (D-Blytheville) also joined this week’s report to discuss a program that could reduce the effects Covid has had financially. The state of Arkansas received $173 million for the Arkansas Rent Relief Program, providing assistance in paying both overdue and upcoming rent and utility bills.

Up to 15 months of rent could be covered through the program, dating back to April 1, 2020, including any late fees accumulated over that time.

Renters can also apply for up to three months of future rent.

Additionally, the program can now send checks directly to tenants if a matching application isn’t submitted by the landlord when payment is issued. This change will apply to all current applications on file, as well as all future applications.

“That’s the recent update,” Hodges said. “They can make payments directly to the tenants if the landlord has not responded within 10 days. Overdue utilities for gas, water and electricity bills are covered as well.”

The program originally launched in May, but with low staffing along with a low number of applicants, much of the funding has gone unnoticed.

“We have this pool of money that’s out there to help these tenents. I think we’ve got some momentum growing now [however], after realizing that we weren’t taking advantage of this program. I don’t know if it was just that landlords were not aware of it, but this is a very generous program. We’ve had some in this district that have benefited from it,” Hodges said. Renters and landlords can sign up for the program by calling 855-736-8275 or online at