Craighead County is hot spot for coronavirus; ASU to host virtual town halls to discuss race issues

by George Jared ([email protected]) 931 views 

Community spread of COVID-19 is rapidly rising in Arkansas and Craighead County has emerged as a potential hot spot. During the last 24 hours, the county had 21 new cases detected, the fifth most of any county in the state. Arkansas had 375 cases during the last day – an all-time high for community spread cases.

Craighead County has had 228 cases reported to date, but no deaths, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. St. Francis County with 676 cases and one death has the highest number of cases in the region. It’s followed by Crittenden County with 386 cases and nine deaths.

Lawrence County has 84 cases with five deaths that are all tied to a nursing home. Sharp County has 46 cases with two deaths connected to a nursing home, while Mississippi County has 76 cases with two reported deaths.

Even with the spike in Craighead County, the region has maintained a relatively low number of new cases as compared to the rest of the state, Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith noted when he visited the region last week.

“I’d like to bottle whatever you are doing here and send it around the state,” he said jokingly about the relatively low numbers.

Even as COVID-19 case and death tolls continue to rise, local officials are dealing with the widespread social unrest caused by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin.

Protests and riots have engulfed the entire country during the last week and Arkansas State University Chancellor Kelley Damphousse is taking a step towards recognizing how the university can better handle issues confronting black students.

“We are scheduling a series of virtual town hall meetings to give voice to students, faculty, staff, and alumni who might be able to identify blind spots for us. Dr. Maurice Gipson, Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Community Engagement, will moderate the meetings, and members of my cabinet will also attend. We will not be listening to reply, but listening to learn and listening to improve,” he said.

The chancellor went further saying “In closing, I must confess that I am uncertain exactly what we must do in the coming months to be sure that we are meeting our obligation to our students, faculty, and staff. But I do know that our campus community believes that these are equally important and achievable ideals at A-State. I also know that many of you are motivated to work together to make this change happen. The time to start making that change is now.”