ARKANSAS, USA — RELATED: Real-time updates: Nearly 15,000 Arkansans tested for coronavirus
We are continuing to track the latest headlines and updates regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the River Valley and Northwest Arkansas.
All cases are confirmed through the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).
April 8 9:15 p.m. - 1,077 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas, 237 recoveries and 14,909 total tests.
April 8 1:50 p.m. - First CARES Act $600 went out today. For self-employed, contract workers etc, Arkansas will be building out a system, it'll take three weeks to build out the system. Will be back dated for pay.
April 8 1:45 p.m. - 110,000 applications for unemployment claims, likely to be at 150,000 claims by end of the week.
April 8 1:40 p.m. - $3 million distributed for a short-term bridge loan program for the small business program.
April 8 1:39 p.m. - Dr Smith: 814 COVID-19 reports yesterday, 573 commercial, ADH 134, positive rate 6.6%, 14,255 tests total
April 8 1:35 p.m. - 1,023 positive cases, 76 hospitalized, 18 deaths.
April 8 11:12 a.m. - Governor Asa Hutchinson will provide a daily update on the response to the coronavirus in Arkansas at 1:30 p.m. in Little Rock, following his state of the state speech.
April 8 9:20 a.m. - The Arkansas Department of Health is now reporting 1,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Arkansas.
April 7 7:10 p.m. - 997 positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Arkansas. 189 have recovered.
April 7 1:45 p.m. - 24 inmates at federal correctional facilities are infected and five staff members are infected.
April 7 1:43 p.m. - 500 "quick tests" for Healthcare workers from Abbott Labs and Heart Hospital were donated. 1.6% positive rate of yesterday's test, 1285 commercial lab tests, ADH 73 tests, UAMS 78 tests.
April 7 1:40 p.m. - 74 patients are currently hospitalized, 26 are on ventilators. There are two new deaths today, totaling 18 so far in the state. Both new deaths were aged 65 or older. 152 people have recovered.
April 7 1:30 p.m. - 946 positive cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas. 1,400 tests have been given within the past 24 hours.
April 7 9:51 p.m. - Gov. Asa Hutchinson will hold a daily update on the response to the coronavirus in Arkansas Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in Little Rock.
April 6 8:08 p.m. - First confirmed case of COVID-19 in Logan County. It was reported in the Scranton area.
April 6 6:56 p.m. - The Arkansas Department of Health is now reporting 927 confirmed coronavirus cases in Arkansas, and 12,337 negative tests.
April 6 5:07 p.m. - Washington County coroner reports first COVID-19 related death.
April 6 2:00 p.m. - 800 ventilators in Arkansas, 500 are not being used currently
April 6 1:45 p.m. - Schools will continue to provide meals with social distancing in mind, said Education Secretary Johnny Key.
April 6 1:38 p.m. - Remainder of this school year is going to be closed, no in-school instruction but students will continue with alternative forms of instruction. Schools will focus on core curriculum. Seniors will graduate.
April 6 1:30 p.m. - Gov. Hutchinson announces 875 positive cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas. 74 are hospitalized, no new deaths. 102 people have recovered. 122 health care workers have tested positive for the virus.
April 6 10:00 a.m - Gov. Asa Hutchinson will hold a daily update on the response to the coronavirus in Arkansas Monday at 1:30 p.m. in Little Rock. Hutchinson is expected to give an update on whether he will close schools for the remainder of the semester.
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.