The number of COVID-19 cases continues to surge even as parts of the economy are opened by state and local officials. In Crittenden County, there are now 205 reported cases and at least seven people have died from the virus. St. Francis County, which borders Crittenden, is the second county in the region to top 100 cases with 108, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.
Craighead County has 92 cases, while Lawrence County has 69 cases and four reported deaths. Sharp County has only eight positive cases, but at least one person has died there from the disease.
As more and more businesses are allowed to open under the direction of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a few recreational spots in Jonesboro are poised to re-open. Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin has announced plans to open Southside Softball Complex and Joe Mack Campbell Park for recreational and youth softball and baseball practices.
Reservations for practice fields can be made starting Monday (May 11), and practices can begin as soon as Tuesday. Perrin and Parks Director Danny Kapales stressed the importance of maintaining Centers for Disease Control (CDC) best practices for COVID-19 as practices begin.
“We need to get out and play,” Perrin said. “We just have to do it in a way that respects the reality that coronavirus is still out there.”
Kapales said the city is awaiting word from Hutchinson before scheduling games for recreational leagues and tournaments. Hutchinson has identified May 18 as when he will announce startup dates for youth sports competition to begin.
Kapales said bleachers and dugouts will not be opened during these first weeks of practice to avoid touch points that could spread the coronavirus.
Parents, guardians and siblings must remain in cars during practices. At Southside, both the Caraway Drive and Stadium Boulevard entrances are open. At Joe Mack Campbell, only the Harry Drive entrance is accessible.
Soccer fields will open at the discretion of the State Soccer Commissioner, who also set May 18 as an announcement date.
Craighead County residents impacted by the March 28 tornado received some good news during the weekend. U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton, along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman, announced that President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration in Arkansas due to extensive damage as a result of a tornado and severe storms that struck Craighead County on March 28, 2020.
“We are pleased with this quick response from the administration which will provide financial assistance to speed up recovery efforts in the wake of the devastating tornado and severe storms that hit Craighead County. President Trump’s swift action to approve the state’s request for a disaster declaration is appreciated given the economic toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has already taken on the state of Arkansas,” the members stated.