First presumptive case of coronavirus in Arkansas, Governor announces

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson says the state of Arkansas has its first presumptive case of the coronavirus.

According to the governor, the case is in Pine Bluff and has been quarantined.

The governor says the person had traveled out of state.

The test result was revealed Wednesday morning.

Officials say there is no evidence of the virus spreading in the Pine Bluff area.

The test has been sent to the CDC to be confirmed.

The governor has implemented a new travel policy, no out of state travel for state employees without approval from a cabinet secretary.

Hutchinson says there is no risk to the general public.

The governor says he does not see a need to be concerned with large events or school activities as of yet, or to interrupt services or work remotely.

Hutchinson is urging Arkansans to reconsider and look into their spring break travel.

The governor says we are “past the point of containment but mitigation”.

Gov. Hutchinson says he is signing an emergency declaration this afternoon for the state.

Full news release from Governor’s Office:
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today confirmed the first presumptive positive case of coronavirus, known as COVID-19, in Arkansas.

The case has been tested positive by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) and sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation. The individual is currently in isolation in a hospital in Pine Bluff. This is an out-of-state travel-related case, and there is no indication that COVID-19 is spreading in Arkansas communities at this time.

Today, Governor Hutchinson also signed an executive order to declare a public health emergency to facilitate coordination and provide increased support to state agencies that are involved in response to the virus. You can find the executive order, EO 20-03, HERE.

“For months, Arkansas has been well prepared to respond to COVID-19. More than two months ago, the Arkansas Department of Health, under the leadership of Dr. Nathaniel Smith, designated more than 70 of its employees to work exclusively on COVID-19. The team has worked tirelessly to coordinate our state’s response to a potential COVID-19 outbreak. Today, I also asked each of my Cabinet secretaries to prepare a continuity of operation plan in the event of an outbreak of the virus. I have also been in frequent communication with Vice President Mike Pence, the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services, and numerous other governors for updates and information.

“The State is taking measures to respond to the confirmed case appropriately and swiftly so that information and resources are available for Arkansans. We are taking every measure to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in Arkansas, but the best way to protect yourself from contracting any virus is by practicing healthy habits, washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, and staying close to home if you are not feeling well.”

If you have questions or concerns about COVID-19, you can contact the Arkansas Department of Health at 800.803.7847 or visit https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/.

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