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.

Last Updated: November 25, 2020

COVID-19: A Local View

The data in these tables and maps are provided to help inform local decision makers, including policymakers, school personnel and parents, about the impact of COVID-19 in their communities.

Click button above for a synopsis of key data points.

As the pandemic continues to unfold, it is important to understand its impact on mortality, or death, rates in the U.S. One way of evaluating this is to estimate the number of excess deaths that have taken place since the beginning of the pandemic.

In a recent installment of our blog series explaining key terms and phrases used by public health officials in discussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, we take a closer look at the term “excess deaths.”

Simply defined, excess deaths are the difference between the observed number of deaths during a specific time frame and expected number of deaths during the same period. ACHI has included excess death data resources below, including an interactive dashboard of excess deaths associated with COVID-19 developed by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We also have included a dashboard of daily deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic by state, developed by the Health Care Cost Institute.

On Oct. 5, the CDC posted a report on a COVID-19 outbreak at a family gathering that took place over three weeks in June and July. The CDC and the health departments of Rhode Island, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Cook County, Ill., investigated and found that the suspected primary patient was a teen who had been exposed to the virus. Among 14 people who stayed in the same house with the teen, 11 developed COVID-19. Among six who visited the house but did not stay overnight, remained outdoors, and maintained physical distance, there were no known infections.


Dr. Joe Thompson, president and CEO of ACHI, provides a public service announcement regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Recorded June 24.

Actualizaciones de Covid-19 de ACHI en español

Drs. Joe Thompson y Eduardo Ochoa brindan una actualización sobre COVID-19

From Our Blog

Give Thanks, not COVID

While the holidays bring joy and thanksgiving, we have documented transmission events that occurred at family gatherings and celebratory events. The ACHI Health Policy Board offers the following prevention strategies based upon logical application of the best available science. Read More.


On July 14, the CDC posted a report on a hair salon in Springfield, Mo., where two stylists served a total of 139 clients between developing respiratory symptoms and testing positive for COVID-19. All involved wore face coverings, and no clients were known to be infected. The report shows how effective face coverings can be in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

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

ACHI and the Arkansas Municipal League hosted a video call on November 13, 2020, to discuss what cities, towns, and other state municipalities should know about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Immunology 101

This video provides a quick glance at the immune system as it attempts to fight off the coronavirus.


Recommendations Include Mask Requirement in Shared Spaces

The ACHI Health Policy Board’s position is that employers have an obligation to help achieve control of the COVID-19 pandemic, protect individuals, and minimize economic hardships in the state. All entities subject to the Arkansas Department of Health’s public health directives — including business-specific directives such as those for gyms, bars, and restaurants and general directives such as those for all businesses, manufacturers, and construction companies — should comply with those directives at a minimum. In addition, all public, private, and nonprofit entities that are not otherwise subject to a business-specific directive should adopt the following additional reasonable precautions in an effort to protect themselves from potential liability and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 from customers and visitors to others including their own employees:

  • Require employees, customers, and visitors to wear face coverings in shared spaces while inside;
  • Screen all employees for potential COVID-19 exposure and symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell as they are entering the facility at the beginning of work;
  • Make verbal announcements and post signage including signs for non-English speakers that encourage proper face covering placement, hand hygiene, and coughing and sneezing etiquette;
  • Establish and make available to the public written COVID-19 protocols for protection of employees, customers, and visitors; and
  • Regularly monitor and assess compliance for necessary changes to existing practices based on available peer-reviewed evidence and public health guidance.


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.

Test Sensitivity

In medical testing, sensitivity measures how often a test generates a positive result for people who actually have a certain condition. Read more.


Mechanical ventilators are machines that help to move air in and out of the lungs of patients with severe lung issues. Read More

Asymptomatic Transmission

In relation to COVID-19, an individual who is asymptomatic is infected with the new strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 but does not show symptoms of the disease for the duration of the infection. Read More

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.


Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Department of Health have 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.

Reopening decisions announced to date include:

    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 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.

    Blog Posts

    Arkansas School Districts with High Community Infection Rates Surpass 100

    COVID-19 in Arkansas: A Weekly Snapshot, Oct. 31‒Nov. 6, 2020

    Schools in ‘Red Zone’ for New COVID-19 Infections in Community Now at 40

    COVID-19 in Arkansas: A Weekly Snapshot, Oct. 10‒15, 2020

    Number of Arkansas School Districts in Red Zone for Covid-19 Infections in Community Doubles in One Week

    COVID-19 in Arkansas: A Weekly Snapshot, Sept. 26‒Oct. 2, 2020

    COVID-19 in Arkansas: A Weekly Snapshot, Sept. 12‒18, 2020

    Arkansas Works: A Crucial Safety Net in Pandemic, It Faces Hurdles in 2021

    Death Reporting: How It Works, Why It Matters During COVID-19, Opioid Crises

    Arkansas’s Ranking Unchanged in Latest Healthcare System Performance Report

    COVID-19 in Arkansas: A Weekly Snapshot

    School District-Level COVID-19 Data Available

    President’s Executive Order Is Step Toward Continuing Telehealth Access Beyond Pandemic

    CMS Lets Health Insurers Cut Premiums During Pandemic

    Arkansas Approved for SNAP Online Purchasing

    Federal Report Includes New Dietary Recommendations for Infants, Toddlers

    COVID Local Risk Index Helps Identify Cities, Neighborhoods with Populations at Higher Risk

    4 Arkansas Healthcare Providers Receive Federal Grants for Telehealth

    ACHI Releases PSA on COVID-19 Pandemic

    Into the Woods: Healthcare Rule’s Happily Ever After

    ACHI Urges July 4 Precautions Against Virus Spread, Fireworks Injuries

    One-Third of Medicare Beneficiaries Hospitalized for COVID-19 Have Died or Been Discharged to Hospice, New Data Show

    Arkansans Greatly Impacted by Pandemic

    COVID Local Risk Index Helps Identify Cities, Neighborhoods with Populations at Higher Risk

    ACHI Board Proposes Five COVID-19 Precautions for Employers

    Mathematical Models Offer Projections of COVID-19 Spread, Deaths

    State, Local Public Health Funding Declined Before Pandemic

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

    New Interactive Tool Shows Pre-Pandemic Hospital Occupancy Levels in Arkansas

    Transparency Sought on COVID-19 Relief Funds

    Federal COVID-19 Relief Reaching Arkansas Healthcare Providers

    ACHI Board Urges Employers to Combat Viral Transmission in the Workplace

    National Association of Medicaid Directors Seeks Additional COVID-19 Relief for States

    Arkansas Seeking $116 Million for COVID-19 Response Through Section 1115 Waiver Request

    Federal 1135 Waiver to Aid Arkansas’s COVID-19 Response

    Families First Coronavirus Response Act Makes Enhanced Medicaid Funding Available to States