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Almost 400 negative coronavirus tests in Arkansas, ADH says

The Arkansas Department of Health has also confirmed 96 positive COVID-19 cases throughout the state on Friday.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — As of 1:20 p.m. on Friday, the Arkansas Department of Health confirmed 96 positive COVID-19 cases throughout the state.

Officials say approximately one-third of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in Arkansas are linked to the first case that was announced out of Jefferson County just one week ago.

Governor Hutchinson announced Arkansas will tap Community Development Block Grant funds and the state’s Quick Action Closing Fund to support small businesses and nonprofits that are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also announced the state will increase reimbursement for child-care voucher providers who care for children who receive federal child-care assistance.

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Key facts to know:

  • 96 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas
  • 203people are under investigation
  • 388 negative test results
  • All public schools are closed until April 17
  • All restaurants and bars are directed to operate under carry-out and to-go options only "until further notice."

Arkansas coronavirus hotlines: 

Friday, March 20:

The Arkansas Department of Health updated its website to report that 388 people have tested negative for coronavirus while there are a total of 96 positive COVID-19 cases in the state.

Thursday, March 19

3:18 p.m.:

"As you can see from the actions that we've taken today, we are being aggressive and leaning forward to get a handle on this," said Gov. Hutchinson.

The governor said the main goal is to make this as short-lived as possible.

3:10 p.m.:

Dr. Smith said they don't currently have the number of cases that are community-spread; they're just focused on stopping it right now.

There's been a rapid increase in cases; 15 cases are ages 65 or older, 41 are adults aged 19-64, and six are children.

As far as hospital restrictions, "not one size fits all." Pediatrics are different than adult patients, but mainly one visitor per patient at UAMS during restricted hours.

2:50 p.m.:

Telemedicine has been opened in the state. It's super important as patients don't need to rush to the doctor's office. Patients can speak to a doctor through a screen or on the phone.

Telemedicine allows reimbursement to the providers and clinics.

The PPE issue is a huge concern.

Bledsoe said he's inspired by hospital staff who have gone above and beyond to help in any way they can.

2:45 p.m.:

Chancellor Patterson said top of mind are adequate screenings of people that may have COVID-19. The best place to be screened is either by phone or online. The last place to be is an emergency room or doctor's office.

UAMS has screened 4,200 individuals, over half of those were done on Wednesday alone.

Three machines have been acquired to do 150 screenings per day, roughly 600 per day when they get it. There will be a 6-9 hour turnaround when they get the machines.

We're in a good condition, considering the situation, according to Patterson.

The state is increasing restrictions on visitation of healthcare facilities and restricting patient access.

Blood donation stations are shutting down.

2:40 p.m.:

According to Dr. Nathaniel Smith, the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Arkansas jumped from 33 to 62 cases within 24 hours. Twenty-three cases were done in ADH lab and six were reported from reference labs. 

The added counties with at least one positive case are: Pope, Van Buren, Sevier, Searcy, Craighead, Clark, Poinsett, Independence, and Grant.

Two children are among the new cases.

If a person has had contact with someone with COVID-19, they should self-quarantine, regardless of symptoms.

There are three main priority groups: health care workers, nursing homes, other places where people may have been exposed.

Dr. Smith added that the public should not be afraid, despite the dramatic short-term changes. Many people are working together in partnership to respond all COVID-19 concerns.

2:00 p.m.:

In a press conference on Thursday, Gov. Hutchinson confirms 62 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arkansas. Nine more counties have been added to the list.

"This is not a surprise. This is just an example of additional testing capacity that we have," Hutchinson said.

There are 509 cases being monitored; those include those who have chosen to self-quarantine but aren't showing symptoms.

"It is clear to me that we do have increasing community spread," Hutchinson said.

Gov. Hutchinson announced all K-12 schools will remain closed until April 17. It will then be re-evaluated due to the public health conditions at the time.

Education will continue through alternate instruction methods.

State government employees will work through telecommunications and on-site work. On-site work is limited to personnel that's necessary to the function of the government.

Hospitals, clinics, and mental health facilities are mandated to screen staff and visitors with temperature and symptom screenings.

In terms of bars and restaurants, dine-in services will be closed. They will only be open for carryout and delivery.

All indoor venues such as gyms are now to be closed for non-essential functions in order to reduce the spread of community exposure.

The governor advises all churches and mosques to limit exposure as well, probably canceling services and looking for other ways to be able to communicate the message.

1:50 p.m.:

The Department of Finance and Administration announced that restaurants and microbreweries will be able to temporarily sell alcohol to-go for the next 30 days.

The alcohol must be sealed during purchase and can be bought alongside a food purchase.

12:00 p.m.:

Mayor Scott said starting on Friday, March 20 Little Rock restaurants will be mandated to only provide take-out options for patrons.

He said the city will temporarily change the restaurant zoning laws so restaurants can use spaces as boutique grocery stores.

RELATED: Little Rock restaurants will be mandated to only provide take-out options for patrons

10:40 a.m.:

At total of 14 counties in Arkansas have at least one confirmed COVID-19 case, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

The following counties have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19:

  • Bradley County
  • Clark County
  • Cleburne County
  • Cleveland County
  • Craighead County
  • Desha County
  • Faulkner County
  • Garland County
  • Grant County
  • Independence County
  • Jefferson County
  • Lincoln County
  • Pulaski County
  • Poinsette County
  • Pope County
  • Saline County
  • Searcy County
  • Sevier County
  • Van Buren County
  • Washington County

10:25 a.m.

The Arkansas Department of Health confirmed 46 COVID-19 cases throughout the state.

A total of 310 people have tested negative for COVID-19 in Arkansas.

Arkansas coronavirus hotlines: 

  • For children (staffed by Arkansas Children's Hospital): 1-800-743-3616 
  • For adults (staffed by UAMS): 1-800-632-4502

We will update the article with new information as it becomes available.

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