‘The calm before the storm’: Arkansas sees 2 COVID-19 deaths, cases increase to 218

Arkansas Gov. Hutchinson and ADH give daily COVID-19 update - March 24

ARKANSAS (WMC) - Governor Asa Hutchinson and other state officials are reporting Arkansas now has 218 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with two deaths in connection with the virus.

Authorities said the first coronavirus death was a 91-year-old man. He was pronounced dead in Faulkner County. The second death was reported hours later in central Arkansas. He was reported to be in his 50s.

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Hutchinson and Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith say the state has been focusing on testing in nursing homes, but neither of the victims were residents in a nursing home.

Gov. Hutchinson says meetings with hospitals, county officials and his public health team have all come to the conclusion that this is just the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in Arkansas.

“They used this language and said that what we’re seeing is the calm before the storm. I know that many people don’t see this as the calm, but I think the way that is phrased makes us understand that we’re still on the lower end of the slope as it goes up," said Hutchinson.

Hutchinson, like many other state officials, has been working to procure PPE for health care workers as they battle the spread of the coronavirus.

Tuesday morning the state received its second allocation of personal protective equipment from the national strategic stockpile, bringing 27,800 N-95 masks to Arkansas.

Arkansas Health Care Association executive director Rachel Bunch issued the following statement regarding the positive diagnosis of COVID-19 in three nursing homes:

“Our association is aware that three of our member nursing homes have reported positive COVID-19 diagnoses. Affected homes are in Benton, Jefferson and Pulaski Counties. The patients in all facilities are receiving the medical care they need and those who were diagnosed have been isolated from others. We are in communication with our facilities, Arkansas Department of Health and Arkansas Department of Human Services to ensure patients have the care they need and prescribed procedures are being followed."

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