ARKANSAS, USA — RELATED: Daily Coronavirus Updates in Arkansas: 566 confirmed cases
We are continuing to track the latest headlines and updates regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Arkansas.
March 31 6:40 p.m. - 564 cases of coronavirus are being reported in Arkansas by the health department. Counties in the River Valley & Northwest Arkansas saw an increase in cases.
March 31 2:10 p.m. - The governor has no plans to place roadblocks for inspections; don’t have the resources and not effective right now with the number of critical workers that need to report to work daily. Still monitoring it daily.
March 31 1:51 p.m. - Governor says the state has received 275 small business loan applications; expects to have $3 million disbursed by next week.
March 31 1:50 p.m. - Governor has signed a letter declaring Arkansas a major disaster state due to COVID-19.
March 31 1:48 p.m. - Governor signed an executive order that suspends notary action “in person” for attorneys, title companies, wills, etc can be done online.
March 31 1:46 p.m. - Governor estimates 30,000 unemployment claims in Arkansas. 20-30 new staff have been trained to help process unemployment claims and man the phones.
March 31 1:44 p.m. - Most frequently visited state parks are being considered as closed to limit out of state travel, Gov. Hutchinson says.
March 31 1:41 p.m. - Of the 523 cases, 17 are children, 158 are 65 and up, 348 are aged 18-64.
March 31 1:39 p.m. - Governor says 3,500 cases expected by mid-April. We are currently below the trend line which is good news. We are having success with social distancing.
March 31 1:34 p.m. - 523 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 64 hospitalized and one new death, totaling 8 so far. The newest death was an individual who was older than 65 and they passed away at White River Medical Center in Central Arkansas. 79 are health care workers, 47 are in nursing homes, 23 are on ventilators. 35 people have recovered.
March 31 10:12 a.m. - Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced he will be providing a daily update to the response to coronavirus in Arkansas at 1:30 p.m. in Little Rock.
March 30 6:37 p.m. - The Arkansas Department of Health is now reporting over 500 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state.
March 30 1:50 p.m. - Hutchinson says restrictions on casinos will be extended.
March 30 1:47 p.m. - Governor was on a call from the White House and President Trump today. Under CARES Act, Arkansas will receive funds from federal government. Gov. Hutchinson signed an executive order for a steering committee to guide the allocation of funds. $1.25 billion in federal funds expected to come to Arkansas. It must be used for COVID-19 costs and has to be used by the end of the calendar year. It cannot be used to fill holes in the state budget.
March 30 1:46 p.m. - Governor says State Parks are a great place to do something and be apart. Sports (like tennis) are fine as long as you can be 6 feet apart. Maintain distance even in groups of less than 10 people.
March 30 1:45 p.m. - $45 million more allocated for the purchase of personal protection equipment for health care workers and ventilators.
March 30 1:40 p.m. - Out of the 473 cases, 17 are children, 307 are aged 18-64, 6 pregnant women, 71 are related to domestic travel and 73 healthcare workers
March 30 1:35 p.m. - 62 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in Arkansas, 21 are on ventilators. 29 have recovered so far.
March 30 1:30 p.m. - Governor confirms 473 cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas, including one more death, totaling seven so far in the state. The newest death was a person over the age of 65 and was in a nursing home.
March 30 10:20 a.m - The Arkansas Department of Health is now reporting 449 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state. Sebastian County is now reporting five cases.
March 30 9:06 a.m - Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced he will be providing an updated on the response to coronavirus in Arkansas at 1:30 p.m. Monday in Little Rock.
Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.
But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk.
The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.
Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...
- The air by coughing or sneezing
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.
Help stop the spread of coronavirus
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Eat and sleep separately from your family members
- Use different utensils and dishes
- Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
- If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
Lower your risk
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.
I’m on social security. Do I need to file a tax return to receive my benefits?
No. If an individual has not filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019, the government will use an individual's 2019 SSA-1099 Social Security Benefit Statement or 2019 RRB-1099 Railroad Retirement Benefit Statement to advance payments to individuals who receive Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefits. All Social Security beneficiaries-retired workers, disabled workers, eligible family members, and survivors-receive a Form SSA-1099. However, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients are not provided a Form SSA-1099. SSI recipients who also receive Social Security benefits will be automatically forwarded a payment. SSI recipients who do not receive Social Security benefits will need to file a 2019 tax return to receive a payment if they are otherwise eligible. If an individual started receiving Social Security payments in 2020, they will need to file a 2019 tax return to be eligible. Adults who are claimed as a dependent on another taxpayer's return are not eligible for a payment.
What do I need to do about my federal student loans?
Federal student loan borrowers do not need to take any action to suspend payments. Your federal student loan servicer will suspend all payments without any action from you. You do not need to contact your student loan servicer. While federal student loan payments are suspended, the loans shall not accrue any interest and the month of a suspended loan payment will be treated as if a loan had been made for purposes of loan forgiveness and loan rehabilitation. The suspension period will result in no negative credit reporting and also involuntary collection of the loan will be suspended—no wage garnishments, tax intercepts, offset of federal benefits, or any other collection activity. These protections do not apply to borrowers with Perkins Loans and borrowers whose FFEL loans are held by banks or guaranty agencies. If you have a Perkins Loan or an FFEL loan that is privately owned, you should contact your loan servicer to explore options they may be offering.
When will I get my check and how much will it be?
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he expects most people to get their payments within approximately three weeks.
For Individual Filers: Americans who file their taxes as individuals will receive up to $1,200 in assistance. If your income was less than $75,000 in 2019, you will receive the full amount of $1,200. For those making above $75,000, reduced checks on a sliding scale will be paid. For every $100 you make over $75,000, your assistance will be reduced by $5.
For Married Couples Filing Jointly: Americans who file taxes jointly will receive up to $2,400 plus $500 for every dependent under the age of 17. If your joint income was less than $150,000 in 2019, you will receive the full amount of $2,400 plus $500 for every dependent under 17. For couples making above $150,000, reduced checks on a sliding scale will be paid. For every $100 you make over $150,000, your assistance will be reduced by $5.
I just lost my job. What are my options in terms of unemployment benefits?
Congress recently passed a new program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance which will make certain Arkansans who lost their jobs due to the public health emergency are eligible for unemployment insurance, provided an additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance, and provided an additional $600/week in unemployment insurance through July 31. Arkansas normally offers 16 weeks of unemployment insurance; because of the new program, Arkansans will be eligible for a total of 29 weeks.
Individuals Eligible for Normal Unemployment Insurance: Unemployed workers who are eligible for traditional unemployment insurance will receive their normal income-based payment plus $600 a week until July 31st. If an individual is still unemployed after July 31, their payment will revert down to the traditional payment they would have received before the crisis.
Individuals Newly Eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: Unemployed workers who wouldn’t typically qualify for unemployment benefits but are now unemployed as a result of the pandemic will receive $600 a week plus an amount that the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services determines until July 31. After July 31, their payments will revert down to the amount that ADWS determines. Self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and “gig economy” employees will all be covered. However, to qualify, an individual must have lost their job or income due to the virus, tested positive or exhibited symptoms of the virus, or be caring for a member of your household or family who has been diagnosed with the virus.
Individuals who have had their hours cut: Arkansas offers partial unemployment benefits to certain individuals who have had their hours cut. Please contact the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services to determine if you are eligible.
You can find more information on Senator Cotton’s website, here.