ARKANSAS, USA — RELATED: Real-time updates: 854 coronavirus cases in Arkansas, Gov. to make decision on closing schools
Watch Live: Governor Asa Hutchinson provides an update on coronavirus in Arkansas.
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 5 - Two new counties reported: Phillips and Yell County.
April 5 - Today's press conference reported 67 people hospitalized, and 27 on ventilators.
April 5 - The number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas is now 830, the number of deaths goes up to 16.
April 4 - The Governor issued a new executive order limiting out-of-state tourists.
April 4 - Ther are three new counties now with confirmed cases. Those counties are Lafayette, Dallas, and Prairie County.
April 4 - 14 deaths reported in today's press conference. The two newest deaths were of people aged 65 or older.
April 4 11:40 a.m - Arkansas Health Department reports 743 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Number of cases and age ranges:
20: children under 18
49: ages 18-24
210: ages 25-44
263: ages 45-64
201: ages 65 or older
April 3 3:40 p.m. - Walmart announced it will begin to limit the number of customers in its stores.
April 3 3:00 p.m. - Walmart 2020 Shareholders' meeting will be held virtually.
April 3 2:08 p.m. - Gov. says they have chartered cargo flights to supply 30 days worth of equipment for the state of Arkansas. A high number of medical equipment is coming from overseas.
April 3 2:05 p.m. - ADH Dr. Smith warning that men with underlying issues need to be especially careful.
April 3 2:00 p.m. - L’Oréal is donating hand sanitizer on a scale of 550 gallons/week to Arkansans.
April 3 1:50 p.m. - Dr. Cam Patterson, UAMS: PPE shipment arrived today. Flight charters next weekend should deliver a 30-day supply of PPE.
April 3 1:41 p.m. - 96 healthcare workers have tested positive: 10 physicians, 28 nurses, four CNAs.
April 3 1:40 p.m. - COVID-19 cases in Arkansas: 20 kids, 197 aged 65+, 487 adults aged 18-64, 60 patients have recovered, 53 of the cases were nursing home residents
April 3 1:35 p.m. - Gov. says almost 10,000 Arkansans have been tested and about 7.3% have tested positive.
April 3 1:30 p.m. - Gov. Hutchinson: 704 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas, 71 hospitalized, no new deaths. Of the 12 COVID-19 related deaths in Arkansas: eight ages 65+, four ages 19-64.
April 3 12:43 a.m. - Fort Smith city leaders confirmed 11 coronavirus cases in the region, one in Van Buren and 10 in Fort Smith. They encouraged residents to continue practicing social distancing and expressed that local hospitals have the supplies they need to take care of the community.
April 3 11:39 a.m. - Governor Asa Hutchinson and Dr. Nate Smith will provide a daily update on the response to coronavirus in Arkansas on Friday, April 3, at 1:30 p.m. in Little Rock.
April 3 10:05 a.m. - Fort Smith city leaders will be holding a press conference at 12 p.m. Friday to address the response to coronavirus in the city.
April 3 8:37 a.m. - The Arkansas Department of Health reports 687 confirmed cases.
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.