COVID-19 cases continue growth in Northeast Arkansas

by George Jared ([email protected]) 1,166 views 

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to expand throughout Northeast Arkansas as restrictions on businesses are relaxed. St. Francis County has at least 341 cases, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. It’s the highest total of any county in the region, but there have been no reported deaths.

Crittenden County has 234 cases with seven deaths, while the number of cases in Craighead County ballooned to 140. There are no reported deaths from the virus in Northeast Arkansas’ most populous county. Lawrence County has 73 cases and four reported deaths. An outbreak at a nursing home in Ash Flat has caused Sharp County’s confirmed cases to rise to 37 along with two deaths.

Despite the upswing in cases, area businesses continued to reopen after being shuttered for almost two months. RV sites at Craighead Forest Park reopened to new campers beginning Monday, May 18, Mayor Harold Perrin and Parks Director Danny Kapales said. Only RVs and camper trailers will be allowed, meaning tent camping remains unpermitted in the park.

“We’ve allowed RVers who were in the park to shelter in place since mid-March,” Perrin said. “But as the governor has opened state park campgrounds, we feel this is appropriate.”

Much of the park remains closed to visitors, including playgrounds for children, pavilions and restroom facilities, Kapales said.

No current timeline is in place for that to change.

“With Memorial Day weekend approaching, many travelers will need sites to camp,” Kapales said. “But we still emphasize CDC directives regarding social distancing, hand sanitizing and wearing masks in public.”

Perrin echoed the precautions.

“Please understand that COVID-19 is still a very serious presence in Jonesboro,” Perrin said. “Enjoy the outdoors, but please do it responsibly.”