COVID-19 cases and deaths rise in Northeast Arkansas; White River Medical System cuts jobs

by George Jared ([email protected]) 371 views 

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has been rising rapidly throughout the state in recent days, and northeast Arkansas isn’t immune to the trend lines. St. Francis County had 801 cases with three deaths as of Thursday afternoon (June 25), according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

Nearby Crittenden County had 660 cases with an area high 10 deaths. The region’s most populous county, Craighead has 422 confirmed cases with six deaths.

It not surprising that areas with the highest population clusters in NEA have the most cases, but several rural counties in the region have higher death totals when compared to the number of confirmed cases. Lawrence County only has 98 cases but nine reported deaths.

Sharp County has 53 cases with four reported deaths. Mississippi County has 128 cases with three deaths while Clay County has had 49 cases with three deaths.

Even as the pandemic numbers continue to rise, the economic impacts from the virus are also being felt. Batesville-based White River Medical System, one of the area’s largest health systems, announced on social media it will lay off 90 workers.

The post read:

“Today we announced steps toward securing the future of White River Health System as a locally governed, independent healthcare provider. These steps include a 25% reduction in the WRHS Leadership Team (vice presidents and directors), extending furloughs, reducing hours and eliminating some positions. Regretfully, this process resulted in the termination of approximately 90 employees throughout our system.

“Our hearts go out to the employees affected. These decisions were made after much thought, consideration of all alternatives, and prayer. This was never anything that we wanted to do; it was something we had to do in the wake of the financial impact of COVID-19.

“Our focus moving forward is to redesign WRHS’s organizational structure to effectively and efficiently deliver excellent medical care to our patients and communities.”

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