First COVID-19 case in Lawrence County; more businesses shuttered

by George Jared ([email protected]) 2,941 views 

A Black Rock resident was confirmed to have COVID-19 on Monday (March 23), making Lawrence County the latest county in Northeast Arkansas to report a case. Craighead County still only had four reported cases as of Monday afternoon to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, but more dramatic changes are coming as the pandemic continues to spread.

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin praised residents who are actively and responsibly practicing social distancing and encouraged everyone to find the resilience needed for the weeks to come as the novel coronavirus is growing as health and local government officials anticipated.

“As COVID-19 has been confirmed and expanding in our community, we are taking important next steps at the city of Jonesboro,” Perrin said. “So far, we see most of our residents doing a fantastic job of social distancing, which is encouraging. But we’re also seeing people who are not behaving responsibly, and it creates tension for the rest of us. It is absolutely critical that everyone take this seriously, and that means no hugs and no handshakes.”

Gov. Asa Hutchinson added hair and nail salons, including barbershops, to the list of mandatory closed businesses. Bars, gyms, and dine-in service at restaurants were closed last week. Only the governor can directly close a business, but Jonesboro Police Department will aid state agencies in enforcing these closures.

JPD Chief Rick Elliott said officers are now making rounds to these businesses for compliance of the governor’s order.

Perrin said businesses that ignore this order risk loss of their business licenses for five years, and he stressed that residents who do not practice social distancing risk more than their own health. Last week, the governor mandated no gatherings of more than 10 people.

“Let’s be clear. You could lead to serious consequences for a loved one,” Perrin said. “I would hate for someone to have to live with that guilt.”

A business page – providing resources and guidelines for small businesses, as well as employees who work or were laid off – has been added to the COVID19 webpage at Jonesboro.org. The Arkansas Department of Health’s website, healthy.arkansas.gov, offers programs and services for residents, businesses, health care, education and many other specific groups in the service community.

St. Bernards Healthcare has created numerous strategies to adapt to the coronavirus outbreak, including moving all urgent care needs – non-coronavirus related – to the Red Wolf Boulevard location at 333 Red Wolf Blvd. It has created a COVID-19 self-assessment at stbernards.info/coronavirus.

Elliott warned residents of scammers using your cellphones and computers to take advantage of the situation to make an illegal profit.

“It’s disgusting, but there are bad actors out there who will try to make money off of this,” Elliott said. “Be very wary of people trying to access your personal information and don’t believe anyone who seeks you out offering a coronavirus test.

City attorney Carol Duncan said her office is still serving the public. “Any citizen needing to file an Affidavit for criminal charges may still get those from the Craighead County District Court or online on the City of Jonesboro webpage, and return them to the Jonesboro Police Department Warrants Division at 410 West Washington.”

“Please make sure you leave a working phone number and an email address, where available, so that you can be contacted about your affidavit if we need further information. If you have the ability to email an affidavit, it should be emailed to [email protected] If you are returning an affidavit by email, there is no need to have your signature verified by the court or a notary public. If your affidavit is approved for criminal charges, we will make arrangements to notarize your signature,” Duncan said.

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