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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

Guidance for Places of Worship:

This guidance addresses the resumption of corporate worship during Phase 1 of Reopening Arkansas:

  • Houses of worship are strongly encouraged to continue to offer online platfroms for participation in worship because it is not yet advisable/feasible for all congregants to come for in-person services
  • Post signs at all building entrances advising congregants not to enter if: They have had a fewer of 100.4 F or higher in the previous 2 days, they have cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms typical of COVID-19, they have had known exposure to someone with COVID-19 in the previous 14 days.
  • Post signs at all building entrances advising congregants that they may wish to refrain from entering if they are 65 or more years old or have underlying health conditions including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, severe obesity, asthma or immunocompromising conditions, because they are at higher risk for severe illness if infected by COVID-19.
  • Post signs at all building entrances to inform people that no one will be admitted into the building without a face covering and that face coverings must be worn by congregants at all times while indoors. The only exceptions to the wearing of face coverings will be: *Worship leaders, only while addressing the congregation*performing singers, only while singing (the worship leaders/singers must stand at a 12-foot distance from others while speaking or singing without a face covering.)*All congregants who participate in Holy Communion, only while actually consuming the elements*Face coverings for children under 10 years are optional*Face coverings for children under 2 years old are prohibited by CDC guidelines*Places of worship may make their own decision on whether to allow children under 10 to return to corporate worship during Phase 1 as this may pose some risk of transmission of COVID-19
  • Provide hand sanitizing stations at all public entrances
  • Lines or cues for entrance and exit must be marked or monitored for maintaining a distance of 6 feet between people.
  • Instruct all congregants, staff and volunteers that the strict 6 foot physical distancing protocol applies to everyone aside from family groups, both indoors and outdoors. Speakers and Singers will require additional distance while speaking or signing without face coverings.
  • As much as possible, move "meet and greet" times before and after services outdoors. Because of the indoor face covering requirement, refreshments should be offered outdoors only. 
  • Instruct people to refrain from any physical contact with each other outside of family groups--no hand shaking, touching, embracing, or reverencing of hands/rings of clergy.
  • Aside from congregant family groups, seating in the sanctuary must follow strict physical distancing protocols with 6 feet between individuals.
  • Eliminate or alter the use of items that are traditionally touched or handled by many different people. Examples are offering plates, the Torah (touch only by the bearer), holy water stations, shared prayer and song books, and the common cup (chalice) for Holy Communion.
  • Refrain from having people come forward to a common altar rail for Holy Communion, blessing, altar call, etc.
  • Refrain from holding religious education classes for children/youth or offering childcare.
  • Sanitize all high-touch surfaces in the sanctuary and common areas after and between services.

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To catch the latest press releases from Governor Asa Hutchinson, click here

Governor's Press Release on Theaters, Lecture Halls, Other Large Venues Okayed for Limited Reopening.

Indoor venues such as theaters, arenas, stadiums, and auction houses that are designed for large groups may reopen May 18 on a limited basis. 

This directive covers indoor venues for commercial, community, or civic centers and activities where an audience, spectators, or a gathering of people are present, such as concerts, plays, movies, lectures, presentations, conferences, conventions, sporting events, races, fundraisers, trade shows, and festivals.

Gathers subject to this directive also include, without limitation, community, civic, public, leisure, commercial, or sporting events.

This directive is not intended for gatherings of people in unconfined outdoor spaces, such as parks or athletic fields, where physical distancing of at least six feet can be easily achieved. Those may open May 4.

Nor is this directive intended for houses of worship, which are addressed under a separate guidance.

  • The performers/players/contestants must be separated from the audience by at least 12 feet and must be limited to 50 or fewer people.
  • The audience is limited to 50 or fewer people.
  • Lines or queues for entrance, exit, making purchases, or for other reasons must be marked or monitored to maintain six feet between people.
  • Seating must be arranged to maintain six feet between members of the audience.
  • Family groups may sit together but maintain six feet between groups.
  • Every other row of seating should be unoccupied.
  • Face coverings are required except for children younger than 10.
  • Performers/players/contestants may be without a face covering if they are 12 feet from each other
  • Signs must be posted at all entrances advising members of the public not to enter if: they have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, or a recent loss of taste or smell, or if they have had known exposure to someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
  • Signs must be posted at all entrances advising members of the public that they may wish to refrain from entering if: they are 65 years of age or older, or if they have underlying health conditions including high blood pressure, chornic lung disease, diabetes, severe obesity, asthma, or weakened immunity.
  • Hand-sanitizer stations must be available at all entrances and exits.
  • Refreshments may be served. However, self-service operations, including, but not limited to salad bars, buffets, and condiment bars shall not be allowed.
  • The facility, including seating, shall be cleaned and disinfected before and after each use.
  • Frequently touched surfaces shall be cleaned periodically during the course of the event.

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Governor's Press Release on Barber, Cosmetology, Massage Therapy, Body Art, and Medical Spa Services:

They may resume on May 6, 2020 under the following guidelines of Phase 1:

Required precautions under Phase 1 guidelines for barber shops, body art establishments, body art shcools, cosmetology establishments, massage therapy clinics and spas, and medical spas include prescreening employees and clients, prohibiting walk-in appointments, use of gloves at all times, use of face masks as services permit, and appropriate social distancing. 

  • Providers may resume services; however those services shall be scheduled by appointment with adequate time in between appointments to properly clean and disinfect. Walk-in appointments are prohibited during Phase 1.
  • People older than 65 or those with chronic medical conditions should consider remainging home during phase 1.
  • Providers must pre-screen clients for potential COVID related symptoms before they arrive for an appointment using the following questions: 1.) Have you had a fever of 100.4 F or greater in the past two days? 2.) Do you have a cough, difficulty breathing, a sore throat, or loss of taste or smell? 3.) Have you had contact with a person known to be infected with COVID-19 within the past 14 days? Providers should postpone for 14 days the appointment of any who answer "yes" to any of the questions.
  • Employees/licensees shall be pre-screened with both the standardized questionaire and a daily tempertature check. Any employee with a temperature of 100.4 F or greater will  not be allowed to work.
  • Services shall not be performed on clients who show any sign of illness such as fever, cough, or runny nose. Sinage shall be posted informing clients about this policy.
  • All persons in the salon/shop/clinic are required to maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet while services are not being rendered. For most entities, occupancy will be limited to no more than 10 persons, including all support staff. 
  • In smaller entities, the 6 feet physical distancing condition may require that fewer than 10 persons are present at any given time. 
  • Larger facilities (able to accomodate more than 10 persons while maintaining appropriate physical distancing) shall operate no more than 30% of their stations during Phase 1.
  • Barbers, stylists, and employees shall wear a face covering at all times. A cloth face covering is acceptable for this purpose.
  • Clients shall wear masks as services permit. A cloth face covering is acceptable for this purpose. Sinage shall be posted informing clients about this policy.
  • Chairs in waiting areas shall be positioned to ensure six feet of social distancing. When possible, clients should wait outside of the shop/salon/clinic until called by their stylist/therapist.
  • All existing infection control rules remain in effect and will be enforced. Non-porous surfaces shall be cleaned and disinfected prior to use. Porous items shall be discarded after a single use. 
  • Gloves shall be worn for all services as required by rule. Licensees are encouraged to wear gloves for all other services when able.
  • Hand washing shall be performed before and after each service.
  • The Department of Health COVID Infection Control Education module shall be viewed prior to reopening.
  • Practicioners shall maintain a record of the name, date, and contact information for each client serviced for a period of one month. This may be accomplished using a sign-in sheet.
  • Barbering, cosmetology, body art schools, and massage schools shall remain closed for in person instruction during phase 1. However, practical examinations are permissible if they are performed on inanimate objects such as mannequins and artificial skin. Appropriate physical distancing shall be maintained during testing. 

Click here for the Arkansas Department of Health directive for reopening barber shops, body art establishments, cosmetology establishments, massage therapy clinics and spas, and medical spas.

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Governor's Release Concerning Gyms, and Fitness Centers

Gyms and fitness centers my resume operations on May 4, 2020, under certain guidelines established to protect the health and safety of employees and patrons. Gyms and fitness centers must meet the following criteria:

  • Screening must be completed on entry for all staff and participants. Those who have any of the following characteristics should not be allowed to enter: - Have returned from travel to New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Orleans or overseas within the last 14 days; - Have had a fever of 100.4 degrees F or greater in the past two days prior to visiting the premises; - Have a cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell; - Had contact with a person known to be infected with COVID-19 within the previous 14 days; - Have a compromised immune systems and/or have chronic diseases
  • Staff should wear a face covering or mask at all times. Patrons should wear a face covering except when actively exercising.
  • Prohibit the use of pools, spas, showers, saunas, etc. at this time. Locker rooms are to be used only for storage of personal items. Maintain physical distancing while in locker rooms.
  • Hand sanitizer should be available throughout the facility.
  • Staff should ensure that all exercise machines or equipment are sanitized after each use (via wipe-down with disposable disinfectant wipes, Lysol or the equivalent.)
  • Maintain proper spacing from others by working out with 12 feet between each person. This may require closing or moving some equipment.
  • Avoid personal contact at all times, including hand shaking.
  • Individual training sessions, indoor group fitness classes, and workouts that require a partner must maintain 12 foot spacing between each person at this time.

Find the Arkansas Department of Health directive for reopening gyms, fitness centers, athletic clubs, and weight rooms click here.

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Governor's Release on Dine-in Restaurant Service:

Restaurants in Arkansas may resume limited dine-in service on May 11 under phase 1 guidelines:

Those guidelines are:

  • Restaurants  must limit number of customers to one-third of total capacity.
  • Tables must be 10 feet apart so that diners will be seated six feet away from diners at other tables.
  • Each employee who directly interacts with patrons must wear a face mask that completely coves nose and mouth. Kitchen staff and others are encouraged to wear a mask.
  • Each employee must wear gloves. Gloves should be changed between each customer, customer group, or tak.
  • Management must conduct a daily health screening of all employees before they enter the restaurant. An employee with a cough, sore throat, fever, or shortness of breath must not enter the restaurant.
  • Patrons must wear a face covering until the food or drink is served.
  • Salad bars, buffets, and other self-serve features will remain closed.
  • Groups must 10 or fewer customers.
  • Tables, chairs, salt/pepper shakers, condiment containers, and napkin holderswill be cleaned and disinfected after each customer.
  • Bars and entertainment operations (such as live music, in-seat gaming devices, or arcades) are prohibitied.
  • Normal service of alcohol within the restaurant seating area is allowed.
  • Restrooms should be disinfected frequently.
  • Service may be declined to patrons not wearing masks.

The phase 1 restrictions will remain in place until Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith determines that they may be relaxed or discontinued.

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The Governor has sent out his first notice on openings. 

May 1st: Arkansas residents with self-contained RV's will be allowed to stay overnight in campgrounds. Bath houses will remain closed. Check in and check out will be automated.

May 15th: State Parks will open their visitor information centers, museums and exhibits, gift shops, golf pro shops, marinas, and equipment rental. Staff will limit the number of visitors allowed into the visitor centers and shops, and will enforce social distancing.

Also, State parks will reopen to Arkansas residents cabins, lodges, and RV rental. Rentals will be limited to Friday through Monday to allow for deep cleaning between visitors. 

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Stop the Spread of COVID-19

Why should we wear a face covering? Face coverings help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

As we get back to normal social interactions we risk spreading the virus all over again. Some people may still have the virus without showing symptoms. So, phasing in normal life will require MORE diligence in personal preventive measures, not less. People with COVID-19 that show no symptoms can spread the virus without knowing it.

How should we wear a face covering? A face covering should fully cover your mouth and nose but allow you to breathe feely. However, children under two years old and those with breathing problems should not wear a face covering. Individuals who are unable to remove their own face covering on their own should not wear one. 

Click here to get instructions on making your own cloth mask. 

Click here for the CDC guidelines and mask instructions.

When should you wear a face covering? When you are out in public, especially when maintaining adequate social distancing is more challenging, such as a grocery store.

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Just yesterday, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, Governor Asa Hutchinson released a press release announcing the first presumptive positive case of the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, in Arkansas. This case was found in an individual in Pine Bluff. Today another presumptive positive case was found in a worker at the Arkansas Children's Hopsital in Little Rock. Since the announcement of the second case, there have been 4 additional presumptive positive cases found for a total of 6 cases. Those cases are found in Grant, Jefferson, Pulaski, and Saline counties. What this means is that the test was positive according to a test conducted here in Arkansas, but was being sent on to the CDC for confirmation. 

For further information about the Coronavirus and how it is affecting Arkansas click on the following links:

Arkansas Department of Health

ADH COVID-19 Resources

Public Health Flyer Notice-ADH

Keeping your environment safe

CDC COVID-19

CDC-about the Coronavirus

Due to this outbreak, certain venues are taking precaution and are limiting or closing to the public to limit and hopefully prevent further spread. This afternoon, Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston ordered the closure of the Arkansas State Capitol to the public, effective Friday, March 13, 2020. Only authorized personnel will be permitted to enter the building for work purposes. Other venues include the U of A is suspending all in-person classes and will move to an all on-line class or other alternative course delivery starting Monday, March 16, 2020, and multiple school districts in Grant, Jefferson, Pulaski, and Saline counties in central Arkansas will close through March 30, 2020. 

UPDATE: There are 3 more that have tested as presumptive positive for the Coronavirus, however, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. of Little Rock, AR confirmed the first community transmission case of COVID-19 in Little Rock, Arkansas. These 3 more cases make a total of 9 presumptive positive cases; all located in central Arkansas. UAMS is now offering free online screening tests for anyone in Arkansas who suspects they are showing symptoms of the Coronavirus. The portal is called UAMShealthnow and it allows them to speak to a nurse practicioner or doctor over facetime. The staffing for this will be 24/7. This is strictly a screening tool. The doctors will not be diagnosing anyone with the virus. 

For a list of Arkansas Coronavirus Closure, Click Here

For a closer look at the Coronavirus and the facts Click here.

To stay up on the Coronavirus, here are the links to the news channels in this area:

Channel 5

40/29

KNWA Fox 24

President Donald Trump declared national emergency on March 13, 2020; Friday. 

Update 3/16/2020: As of March 15, 2020 the CDC has recommended that any event that will have more than 50 people attending not be held to help try to contain the virus for at least 8 weeks. (CDC-Mass Gatherings).

Since March 11, 2020 16 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Arkansas located in the following counties: Pulaski, Jefferson, Saline, and Garland.

As of 6:40 PM, March 15, 2020; all schools will be closed until the end of the month. Here is a list of restaurants providing lunch for schools kids while schools are closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak Restaurants.

Washington Regional Medical Center opens a Coronavirus Screening clinic on March 16, 2020. 10 am to 10 pm 7 days a week. They have also opened a COVID-19 hotline. People can call 479-463-2055. It will be available 7 days a week from 8 am to 8 pm. 

List of cancelled events and updates from 4029 News

There are now 22 COVID-19 positive cases in the State of Arkansas. Healthy Arkansas.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced that price gouging laws are in effect.

There is a $10,000 fine for this. Governor Asa Hutchinson has cautioned against "Panic buying."

Update 3/16/2020: President Trump has issued a media press asking that Americans avoid gatherings of 10 or more people for the next 15 days to slow the spread. 

There is testing of a vaccine.

As of noon on 3/16/2020 the total number of cases in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands is 3,487 with 68 deaths.

County Judge Barry Moehring has announced that all county offices are closed to the public except for the following exceptions: Circuit Court and the Department of Revenue Office located 2401 SW D St. in Bentonville. Benton County Closure Update. (Click for more information.)

Update 3/18/2020: Governor Asa Hutchinson has asked that the Arkansas Department of Commerce to expedite unemployment benefits to assist Arkansans whose employment status may be impacted by COVID-19 outbreak. The Governor has asked the Arkansas Department of Commerce to waive the normal waiting period of one week. This will allow the department to pay claims more quickly. He has also asked to waive current work-search requirements for 30 days, allowing the unemployed to receive benefits without seeking other employment. This exception applies only to those employed by businesses that are temporarily closed with plans to re-open. 

The Governor has directed the Department of Commerce to allow the unemployed to apply for benefits online or by telephone rather than in person in a further effort to minimize the risk of spreading the COVID-19

To locate an Arkansas Workforce Center near you Click here, or you can visit https://www.ezarc.adws.arkansas.gov/ to complete your application online.

We now have 30 confirmed cases in the State of Arkansas with Washington County having their first Presumptive Positive test. There are now 10 counties in the state of Arkansas affected with the COVID-19. Those counties are: Washington, Cleburn, Faulkner, Pulaski, Saline, Garland, Jefferson, Cleveland, Lincoln, and Desha. 

Mayor, Bob Tharp has issued a statement stating that effective immediately there will be no meetings held in city buildings in the City of DECATUR of more than 10 until March 29, 2020, per the request of President Donald J. Trump. This will be reviewed as needed. 

Further in compliance with CDC directive, after March 29, 2020 which supports President Trump's request as stated above, or an adjusted date to be determined, for 8 weeks with ending date on approximately May 1, 2020 we will limit meetings to 50 or less. 

Update 3/19/2020 There are now 62 positive confirmed cases in Arkansas. Of the 62 cases, 6 are children, 41 are ages 19 to 64, and 15 are ages 65 and older. Governor Asa Hutchinson held a press conference today stating that the schools will remain closed for an additional 3 weeks making it not to resume until 4/17/2020. The following counties are now infected: Wasington, Searcy, Pope, and Van Buren, Cleburn, Independence, Craighead, Poinsett, Faulkner, Saline, Garland, Pulaski, Seiver, Clark, Grant, Jefferson, Cleveland, Desha, Lincoln, and Bradley. 

Bars and restaurants will close for dine in, and will be limited to carry out and delivery only. Indoor venues will be closed to non-essential functions. Governor Asa Hutchinson recommends that businesses move to teleconferences, or remote work as well as enforce social distancing and screening of staff and visitors.

The Governor will tap Community Development Block Grant funds and the state's Quick Action Closing Fund to support small busineses and nonprofits that are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has made a formal request for a disaster declaration for small businesses, which will open up loans of up to $2 million in working capital. He stated that "the state cannot cover every loss of business, but we can help with bridge loans to assist companies, nonprofits, and child-care-voucher providers weather this slowdown and retain workers during this national emergency."

The state will allocate $12 million in block grant money and up to $4 million form the quick-action fund to provide bridge loans to help midsize companies and nonprofits remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Governor also announced that the state will increase re-imbursement for child-care voucher providers who care for children who receive federal child-care assistance and that remain open through March 27.

The Departmen of Human Services will suspend the renewal process for child-care vouchers for 30 days. 

Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston has stated that to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners recommend that eligible voters be notified that they have the option of voting by absentee ballot if they wish. All Arkansans who are eligible to vote in a runoff election are eligible to cast an absentee ballot under the Arkansas's existing absentee voting law. To receive an absentee ballot, the eligible voter must submit an application to his or her local county clerk. Applications sent via mail, fax, or email must be received by the County Clerk no later than March 24th.