Due to multiple reports by the media and phone calls in regard to gatherings around the state of more than 10 people, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced at today’s COVID-19 update conference that a directive will be in place within 24 hours for the practice of social distancing.

According to Hutchinson and Dr. Nathan Smith, a directive carries the power of law and has an enforcement component to it. The guidance, which was in place of the social distancing and less than 10 people at an indoor event, is in place to protect Arkansans and their community. Since this has not been successful in some areas, the guideline will now transition into a directive, providing an opportunity for citizens to be responsible and not have the state to move into a Shelter-In-Place environment. 

There are presently 280 cases in Arkansas. 13 are under the age of 18, 94 are seniors 65+ and 173 of the positive cases are adults within the age range of 19-64. Sixty percent of the cases are female and the remaining 40 percent are male. Today, there are 12 patients hospitalized and four on a ventilator. Forty patients are in nursing homes and 11 have met the criteria for being recovered. 

The number of the unemployed for the last two weeks is 18,100 with the numbers continually increasing. 

A proclamation has been signed by Hutchinson for the Special Assembly to convene tomorrow at 1 p.m.

Hutchinson announced the licensing of both medical residents and nurses have been expedited by the Medical Board. During the month of March, more than 100 physicians have been licensed as well as 300 new nurses.

Hutchinson stated there was ample room to treats patients with COVID-19 in state hospitals at this time.

Smith encouraged citizens to use this time of social distancing to check on neighbors and family members via telephone and virtual communication for human connection and improved mental health.

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