21% of Arkansas COVID-19 cases are in nursing homes and prisons

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 3,820 views 

Of the almost 1,500 Arkansans who have tested positive for COVID-19, 11% are residents and staff at nursing homes and 10% are staff and inmates at state and federal prisons, Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said Tuesday (April 14).

COVID-19 cases in Arkansas totaled 1,498 as of Tuesday afternoon, up from 1,410 on Monday. Of the total cases, 1,024 are active, with the remainder accounting for deaths and recoveries. The number of deaths rose from 30 to 32 on Tuesday. The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Arkansas was 81 on Tuesday, up from 74 on Monday. As of Tuesday at 1 p.m., there were 592,743 U.S. cases and 24,737 deaths. Globally, there were 1,970,225 cases and 124,544 deaths.

Of the COVID-19 patients, 29 were on ventilators and the number of healthcare workers with COVID-19 was 206. Of the healthcare workers, 65 have recovered.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during Tuesday’s press conference there are no new cases in the Cummins Unit prison of the Arkansas Department of Corrections. On Monday it was reported that 43 inmates at Cummins tested positive. At the federal prison in Forrest City, Gov. Hutchinson said he and Smith spoke by phone with U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr and the federal government is taking the lead on the 55 inmates and staff who have tested positive in the facility.

The governor also announced Tuesday two executive orders. One allows first responders and healthcare workers to file workers’ compensation claims if they catch COVID-19 during their work. Gov. Hutchinson said the rules prior to the order did not allow a claim for viral infection. The second order provides liability immunity for medical emergency responders during the pandemic.

“We don’t want them to worry about them performing their responsibilities in emergency circumstances about being sued,” Gov. Hutchinson said.

Smith also said the state will soon have up to 160 people conducting “contact tracing” investigation to determine how people become infected. That work initially began with just three people.

Also on Tuesday, Arkansas’ Congressional delegation announced the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded $41.462 million to help provide child care support to healthcare workers, first responders and other essential personnel playing critical roles during the coronavirus crisis. The money comes from the $3.5 billion allocated to the Child Care and Development Block Grant program by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“This funding will help those on Arkansas’s front lines as they grapple with the challenge of responding to the coronavirus crisis while simultaneously taking care of their own families’ needs. We are grateful that Secretary Alex Azar recognizes the necessity of getting these funds out swiftly to help alleviate some of the concerns of our health care workers, first responders and other essential personnel in these trying times,” noted a joint statement from the delegation.