COVID-19 in Arkansas

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people around the world, including Arkansans. ACHI will provide updates and insights on this evolving public health crisis.

CARES Act Provider Relief Funds in Arkansas

These infographics show how relief funds provided under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act were distributed to Arkansas healthcare providers the week of May 4.

CARES Act Provider Relief Funds in Arkansas
($500,000 to $2,000,000 Payments)

CARES Act Provider Relief Funds in Arkansas
($2,000,000 and Higher Payments)

On May 19, the CDC posted a report on a COVID-19 outbreak that occurred among members of an Arkansas church in March. At least 35 of 92 people who attended church gatherings with two symptomatic people acquired the illness, and three of them died. The church gatherings also were linked to 26 additional cases in the community, including one death.

On May 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted a report on a COVID-19 outbreak in Washington state. Among people who attended a March choir practice with one infected person, 87% developed the illness, according to the report.

From Our Blog

The Effect of COVID-19 on Health Insurance Coverage in Arkansas

ACHI Health Policy Director Craig Wilson discusses the economic challenges facing Arkansas’s rural hospitals, and how the COVID-19 pandemic is making them worse, with Talk Business & Politics. Read More.

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What Cities and Towns Should Know During the COVID-19 Pandemic

ACHI and the Arkansas Municipal League hosted a video call on May 14, 2020, to discuss what cities, towns, and other state municipalities should know about the COVID-19 pandemic.

ACHI BOARD URGES EMPLOYERS TO COMBAT VIRAL TRANSMISSION IN THE WORKPLACE

Panel Encourages Adopting Strategies on Hygiene, Social Distancing, Universal Facial Covering

LITTLE ROCK ― The Health Policy Board of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI) issued a statement Thursday directed at public and private employers across the state who are dealing with the challenges of doing business during the COVID-19 pandemic. The statement reads:

“As Arkansans continue to navigate the uncharted waters of COVID-19 and state and community leaders consider next steps, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement Health Policy Board encourages Arkansas employers, private and public, to adopt individual hygiene, social distancing, and transmission reduction strategies. These include entryway and internal signage, established handwashing expectations, enhanced cleaning efforts, and worksite distancing. In addition, we encourage employers to consider strategies to achieve universal facial covering when twelve foot diameter spacing (6 feet in all directions) is not able to consistently be maintained to safeguard both their employees and customers.”

ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson said the board’s intent is to reinforce and expand on guidance from Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state health officials. He said that although those officials have advised the use of proper hygiene, social distancing, and facial covering when social distancing is not possible, adherence to these practices is not always in evidence in Arkansas places of business.

“Wearing a mask is not about protecting yourself, it is protecting others in case you are infected but asymptomatic. The virus spreads through water droplets emitted when a person coughs, sneezes, or even talks,” Thompson said. “Too many individuals in stores and places of employment across Arkansas are not protecting individuals around them by covering their faces.”

As Arkansas proceeds down the path of gradually relaxing public health restrictions and guidelines implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19, our social interactions will increase. Maintaining social distancing, and the wearing of facial coverings when social distancing is not possible, is everyone’s responsibility, Dr. Thompson said.

“Guidelines on social distancing and facial covering are likely to be among the last things lifted,” he said.

The CDC’s guidance on preventing the spread of COVID-19 includes recommendations to:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available.
  • Stay at least 6 feet from other people when out in public.
  • Wear a cloth facial covering in a public setting where social distancing is difficult to maintain, such as a grocery store or pharmacy.

The CDC has provided guidance on proper use of cloth facial coverings and no-sew instructions for making your own: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

ACHI is a nonpartisan, independent health policy center that serves as a catalyst for improving the health of all Arkansans through evidence-based research, public issue advocacy, and collaborative program development. The Health Policy Board is its governing body.

COVID-19 TESTING

Testing Types, Recent Developments, and Policy Considerations

medical testing samples

An important element of the response to the global COVID-19 pandemic is the development and implementation of testing. Our new explainer provides information on the types of testing used to identify COVID-19, recent testing developments, and policy considerations.

Key takeaways:

  • Testing for COVID-19 can be grouped into two categories: molecular tests, to determine whether an individual is currently infected, and serological tests, to determine whether an individual is currently or has previously been infected. Serological tests can also sometimes determine whether an individual is immune.
  • To promote rapid expansion of testing capacity, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given states permission to develop and use tests that have not been submitted to or approved by the agency.
  • The FDA also has given commercial test developers permission to market molecular tests without FDA authorization and has issued emergency use authorizations for a few serological tests.
  • Initially, the Arkansas Department of Health limited testing to Arkansans with possible high-risk exposure to COVID-19, but on April 15, 2020, the department relaxed testing criteria to include individuals with COVID-19 symptoms, if a provider has adequate testing supplies.
  • Progress has been made in expanding testing capability in Arkansas, but to date, testing in the state is still inadequate to determine how many Arkansans are infected with the virus.

Defining COVID-19 Terms

We have launched a series of blog posts explaining key terms and phrases used by public health officials in discussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Doubling Rate

The doubling rate represents the number of days it takes for the number of COVID-19 cases to double, an indicator of how quickly cases are increasing. Read More.

Reproduction Number (R0)

The reproduction number represents the average number of additional cases that a person with an infectious disease like COVID-19 causes during the period he or she is infected. Read More.

Emergency Use Authorization

One pathway for emerging COVID-19 treatments to become available is through a mechanism called an emergency use authorization (EUA), which is granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Read More.

Positive Cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas

As of June 5, 2020, there are 8,425 total cases statewide, and there have been 151 deaths.

Number of COVID-19 Tests, Positive Cases, Recoveries, and Deaths in Arkansas, March 11–June 3, 2020*

The chart shows the raw numbers of tests, positive cases, recoveries, and deaths in Arkansas from COVID-19 from March 11, 2020, through June 3, 2020. The raw data comes from the COVID Tracking Project and Arkansas Department of Health.

Number of Positive COVID-19 Cases per 100,000 Individuals by Age Group in Arkansas, June 3, 2020*

The chart shows the COVID-19 positive case rate per 100,000 Arkansans by age group as of June 3, 2020. The rate is based on raw positive case age distribution data from the Arkansas Department of Health and population data from the 2018 American Community Survey one-year estimates.

Major Arkansas Policy Actions and Numbers of COVID-19 Positive Cases and Tests per 100,000 Individuals, March 11–June 3, 2020*

Since the first COVID-19 positive case was reported in Arkansas on March 11, 2020, state officials have taken various actions to contain the spread of COVID-19. The infographic describes major actions taken and the testing and positive case rate for COVID-19 in Arkansas. The rate is based on raw positive case and test data from the COVID Tracking Project and Arkansas Department of Health and population data from the 2018 American Community Survey one-year estimates.

Positive Case Rate Among Total Tests in Arkansas,* March 11–June 3, 2020**

This chart shows the positive case rate among total tests in Arkansas for COVID-19 from March 11, 2020, through June 3, 2020. The raw cumulative positive case and test data are from the COVID tracking project.

In partnership with the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, ACHI is participating in weekly video calls to update business leaders from across the state on COVID-19 and address their questions. Watch the video above for the May 14 update.

Special thank you to Waymack and Crew for providing space and equipment for hosting the call.

ARKANSAS DECISION POINTS FOR REOPENING

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has made a series of announcements regarding the lifting of some restrictions and guidelines intended to slow the spread of COVID-19. The White House has provided guidelines for the phased reopening of states, although states are not bound by them.

Announcements Gov. Hutchinson has made or is scheduled to make include:

  • April 22: Decision was announced to lift certain restrictions on elective medical procedures, effective April 27.
  • April 24: Decision was announced to allow elective dental services, with restrictions, effective May 11.
  • April 28: Decision was announced to lift certain restrictions on overnight camping at state parks, effective May 1.
  • April 28: Decision was announced to allow the reopening of certain facilities at state parks, including visitor centers, gift shops, golf pro shops, restaurants, museums, marinas, equipment rental shops, cabins, and lodges, effective May 15.
  • April 29: Decision was announced to allow limited dine-in operations at restaurants, effective May 11.
  • April 30: Decision was announced to allow limited activities at gyms and fitness centers, effective May 4.
  • May 1: Decision was announced to allow limited in-person operations at barber shops, body art establishments, body art schools, cosmetology establishments, massage therapy clinics/spas, and medical spas, effective May 6.
  • May 4: Decision was announced to allow large outdoor venues to hold limited activities, effective May 4.
  • May 4: Relaxed guidance was issued for places of worship, effective May 4.
  • May 4: Decision was announced to allow large indoor venues to hold limited activities, effective May 18.
  • May 7: Decision was announced to allow limited operations at casinos, effective May 18.
  • May 8: Decision was announced to lift more restrictions on elective medical procedures, effective May 11.
  • May 8: Decision was announced to allow limited activities at recreational pools, effective May 22.
  • May 18: Decision was announced to allow limited operations at bars inside restaurants, effective May 19.
  • May 18: Decision was announced to allow limited operations at freestanding bars, effective May 26.
  • May 20 (postponed to May 21): Decision was announced to allow summer camps to operate, with restrictions, effective May 21.
  • May 20 (postponed to May 21): Decision was announced to allow some community- and school-sponsored team sports to operate, with restrictions, effective June 1.

Helpful Links and Numbers:

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is tracking statewide cases, and more information can be found here.

The White House has issued guidelines for slowing the spread of COVID-19.

The CDC posts regular online updates with latest guidelines and information on COVID-19.

 

COVID-19 Hotlines and Screening Information:

ADH: During normal business hours (8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.), urgent and non-urgent calls, please dial 1-800-803-7847 or email ADH.CoronaVirus@arkansas.gov. After normal business hours and weekend calls, needing immediate response, please call 1-800-554-5738.

UAMS: Click here for screening information, including drive-thru screenings and phone screenings. Their COVID-19 Hotline is 1-800-632-4502.

Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH): For children younger than 18 years old, call 1-800-743-3616. Nursing staff will be available for questions and phone screenings 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Click here for more information from ACH.

Free-for-All

This free-for-all model, produced by the Washington Post, shows how quickly a simulated disease can spread throughout a population of 200 people as they move about freely with no protective measures taken. This results in a lengthy steep curve as the disease spreads, which may have the effect of overwhelming the healthcare system if too many infected people experience severe symptoms at the same time.

Source: Washington Post, “Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to ‘flatten the curve,’” Harry Stevens, March 14, 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/

Attempted Quarantine

This Washington Post model shows an attempt at a quarantine of infected people to slow the spread of disease, or “flatten the curve.” Eventually, however, it proves very difficult to keep healthy people and infected people separated entirely and this method often proves ineffective in the long term. The following models from the Post show two forms of “social distancing,” which can be an effective method of slowing the spread of disease.

Source: Washington Post, “Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to ‘flatten the curve,’” Harry Stevens, March 14, 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/

Moderate Social Distancing

This model illustrates the effectiveness of moderate social distancing in flattening the curve. In this simulation, three quarters of the population practice social distancing — remain isolated in one place — while the remainder continue to move around. The spread of an outbreak is slowed considerably.

Source: Washington Post, “Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to ‘flatten the curve,’” Harry Stevens, March 14, 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/

Extensive Social Distancing

This model illustrates the effect of “removing the allure” of going out. For example, restaurants, bars, and movie theaters close to the public. Concerts and events are canceled. This results in even more people maintaining the practice of social distancing, and the spread of the simulated disease slows even further.

Source: Washington Post, “Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to ‘flatten the curve,’” Harry Stevens, March 14, 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/