At least two more residents at a nursing home in Lawrence County have died as a result of COVID-19, according to Gov. Asa Hutchinson. At least three residents at the Walnut Ridge Nursing and Rehab Center have died from the virus and another 48 have tested positive.
The three deaths in Lawrence County are the second most among counties in Northeast Arkansas. Crittenden has recorded five deaths and Craighead County has reportedly had one death. No other counties are listed as having a COVID-19 deaths, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.
Crittenden County with 178 confirmed cases has the most in the region, followed by St. Francis County with 83. Craighead County was up two cases on Wednesday (April 29) to 70 confirmed cases.
The number of cases continues to rise, but has seemingly slowed during the last week, even as the death toll ticked up. Hutchinson announced on Wednesday that some restrictions, such as dining in at restaurants will be loosened up in the coming weeks. Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said that a curfew that has essentially been in effect since a tornado devastated the city commercial district on March 28 will be lifted May 1.
Perrin said that city chief of staff Mike Downing has a long and successful background in economic development and he will lead the city’s economic recovery efforts. Additionally, Mark Young, executive director of the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce, will work with Downing on this task. He was recently appointed by Gov. Hutchinson to serve on the Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force, where he also serves on the Commerce Committee.
“I have directed Mike to refocus the majority of his time and energy to work alongside Mark, as well as other city and county leaders, to create appropriate, safe action steps to formulate a far-reaching, thorough plan toward our economic recovery and redevelopment,” Perrin said.
Focus groups of local leaders in retail, hospitality, real estate, banking, and construction, among others will be assembled, the mayor said.
These groups will help us have a better understanding of the specific challenges faced by their market segments, and give direction as to what can be done and to try and help facilitate any needs or assistance that may be available moving forward, Perrin said.
The economic strategies and action steps will be re-assessed and adjusted as future conditions change. Initially, these steps will include rapid and thorough assessment of the economic challenges facing our local retail and service businesses and individual needs assessment for key businesses prioritized to those that will have the most significant immediate impact.