Nearly every county in NEA impacted by COVID-19; Jonesboro mayor calls for masks in public

by George Jared ([email protected]) 2,913 views 

There are only two counties in Northeast Arkansas that don’t have a reported confirmed case of COVID-19, but it’s likely the disease is now in every county in the region.

Crittenden County has at least 50 confirmed cases, the fourth most of any county in the state. Craighead County now has 18 confirmed cases, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. Jackson and Clay counties are the only two in Northeast Arkansas that have no confirmed cases in the region, the ADH reported.

Workers in food preparation, drive-thru services and anyone who has to interact with others in close quarters should wear a mask to reduce chances of transmitting or acquiring the coronavirus, Mayor Harold Perrin said Monday (April 6).

Perrin has been wearing his own mask for a week and strongly advocates all of Jonesboro to wear masks when doing business in public.

“Of course, a mask is not guaranteed protection against COVID-19,” Perrin said. “But I’ve seen too many people who are not social distancing, and both masks and social distancing are crucial to getting us through this time.”

Perrin cited the change in Centers for Disease Control protocol, in addition to his own experience, in the request.

“In those moments when we can’t be at home or social distancing when we are out, a mask is our last line of defense. Anyone not wearing a mask puts themselves and everyone they encounter at risk,” he said.

Perrin and Dr. Shane Speights, a city medical director, also stressed the importance of social distancing among student-aged children.

“In talking with Dr. Speights, he pointed out the large numbers of 21 and under who are still getting together out and about,” Perrin said. “Young adults need to hear this message and heed it. Parents of children need to find a way to keep them from leaving home to hang out with friends. This is serious, and everyone should treat it seriously.”

The 10 p.m. To 6 a.m. curfew that had been in place since a tornado ripped though the city’s commercial district March 28th has been lifted.

More changes have been made on the Arkansas State University campus in Jonesboro due to the spread of the virus, Chancellor Kelly Damphousse said.

“We concluded that we will no longer keep academic buildings open for voluntary lab work or access to remote computer lab spaces. With community spread upon us, I have directed that most academic buildings close and that access to them be restricted only to essential personnel until further notice. Our deans have been communicating this news with their faculty and staff members this weekend, and they are beginning the process of shutting down practice and computer lab spaces,” he said.

“Only employees and students who are engaged in research or work that their supervisors have deemed to be essential in meeting critical functions will have continued access to our academic buildings. Others who can complete their work elsewhere will be asked to ramp down their on-campus work as soon as practical,” he added.

Non-academic buildings are also closed to non-essential personnel and students, such as the Delta Center for Economic Development, Cooper Alumni Center, and the Wilson Advising Center. Other buildings have significantly reduced access, including Facilities Management, IT services, and the administration building.

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