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May 27, 2020

SHOOTING AT THE RIGHT SPOT
On Sunday May 24, 2020 at 1:45 AM, The Ouachita County Sheriff's Department was dispatched to The Right Spot Just outside the city limits of Camden. The reporting party stated that there had been several shots fired and that they had witnessed a subject fleeing the area on foot. The reporting party also stated that he witnessed several vehicles leave the establishment.

Deputies arrived on scene a few minutes after the 911 call was received. Upon arrival deputies found a vacant parking lot with only a maroon four door Jeep parked at the front entrance of the club with no one around. A few minutes later the Ouachita County Sheriff 's Department received a call from the Ouachita County Medical Center that a 16-year-old male had come in with his mother with a gunshot wound to the leg. Soon after, another subject, a 25-year-old male had come in with a gunshot wound to his elbow.

Ouachita Counties Criminal Investigation Division arrived at the Medical Center shortly and began their investigation. Neither subject gave credible information regarding the incident. Investigators spoke with the mother of the juvenile, Katalyia Willis, who is co-owner of The Right Spot. Willis stated she wasn't present and didn't know what had happened during the incident.

On Tuesday morning Investigators spoke with Taki Willis and Katalyia Willis at the Sheriff 's Office who claim to own and Manage, The Right Spot. Both stated that one victim was a member of their security and the other is Kacalyia Willis's 16 -year-old son. The Sheriff 's Department is still in the process of contacting Dennis Harris the holder of the Liquor License that The Right Spot is conducting business under.

The Ouachita County Sheriff 's Department is reaching out to the community for any information in this incident. Two people were shot in this incident, one being a 16-year-old child. The owners of The Right Spot Taki Willis and Katalya Willis have yet to produce the 16-year-old for a formal interview or to produce the whereabouts of Ryan White the member of their security. At this time the Ouachita County Sheriff's Department and the Arkansas Beverage control are investigating this matter further.
 

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 17, 2020
COVID-19 is still on the rise in Arkansas as 97 new cases were reported during Governor Hutchinson's Wednesday afternoon Press Conference update from Jonesboro. The state of Arkansas has now documented a total of 6,277 coronavirus cases and 1,733 of those are currently considered active. 4,424 people have recovered from the virus and 108 people are now hospitalized with COVID-19 with 22 patients on a ventilator. The Arkansas COVID-19 death toll has reached 120.

Although increasing Coronavirus cases continue to be reported throughout the Natural State, the Governor noted that Wednesday's update features less than Tuesday's, with a comparison of 151 new reports from Monday to Tuesday versus Tuesday to Wednesday reports of 97 new cases.

The Governor also reports that the goal of 60,000 tests in the month of May was surpassed and testing efforts continue to grow around the state. Arkansas is currently boasting a low positivity rate as 1.9% of the 4,033 tests conducted in the last day were positive results. This most recent report showed the second time that Arkansas has conducted more than 4,000 tests in a Single day.

Dr. Nathaniel Smith spoke on businesses that have had "clusters" of active cases emerge around the state and he says a direct correlation between an increase in cases and the re- opening up of establishments has not yet been determined. Smith also expressed concern about a rise in COVID-19 cases within minority groups, specifically noting a rise in the Latino Community.

Before opening the floor up for questions, Governor Hutchinson noted commending the workers ensuring unemployment needs in Arkansas are met, and he also encouraged residents to go back to work when the opportunity is presented.

Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas has reached 6,277 with 1,733 cases active and 4,424 people considered recovered. There are currently 108 Coronavirus patients hospitalized with 22 on a ventilator. The Arkansas COVID-19 death toll has now reach 120. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

ARKANSAS 30 DAY FUND AND ARKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCE STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP
Little Rock, AR - Today the Arkansas 30 Day Fund and Arkansas State University announced a partnership to help Arkansas small businesses struggling as a result of COVID-19. The fund was established by Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her husband Bryan Sanders to provide forgivable loans of up to $3,000 to help bridge the gap for small businesses until they get relief from the government or demand returns for their product or service.

Through its Delta Center for Economic Development, A-State will recruit, interview and supply student volunteers to help with the processing of applications received by Arkansas 30 Day fund.
 
"We are so grateful for this partnership and to have the support of Arkansas State in our mission of helping as many Arkansas small businesses as possible," said Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Other 30 Day Fund programs around the country have similarly partnered with universities in their home states including the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School. 

"Arkansas State University is honored to partner with the AR 30 Day Fund by offering our students a unique opportunity to help small businesses across Arkansas recover from the financial impact of COVID-19," ASU System President Charles L. Welch said. "This partnership also provides our students a chance to gain valuable experience with a nonprofit while learning more about the financial difficulties our small businesses are facing due to no fault of their own. I am appreciative of Sarah and Bryan Sanders for giving A-State students this opportunity."

"Providing real-world experiences is a key component of Arkansas State’s commitment to our students," A-State Chancellor Kelly Damphousse added. "Engagement with the community through a project like the Arkansas 30 Day Fund also fulfills one of the goals of our proposed strategic plan.  We are excited for this partnership between the A-State Delta Center and Arkansas 30 Day Fund."

Since launching less than two weeks ago the Arkansas 30 Day Fund has received applications from all across the state and has already begun distributing funds. 

"This is about Arkansans helping Arkansans, and we are encouraged by the outpouring of support from across our great state to help our fellow Arkansans weather this crisis," said Sanders.

Arkansas businesses that qualify for assistance from the Fund are:

Small businesses that employ three to 30 people;

Based in Arkansas and have been operating for at least one year;

Owned and operated by an Arkansas resident.

To apply for assistance from the Arkansas 30 Day submit an application here: Arkansas30DayFund.com
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: HANG UP ON PAYCHECK PROTECTION LOAN SCAMMERS
LITTLE ROCK – Scam artists are contacting local business owners by email and phone, pretending to be affiliated with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a loan program administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) under the CARES Act. While these loans have been the lifeline for many businesses and their employees, the scams can result in even greater losses and financial peril.

“These paycheck protection loans are a key part to our economic recovery to assist hard working Arkansas businesses and their employees,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But, it is shameful and illegal to pose as a government entity to provide false and deceptive services to businesses that are trying to use the paycheck protection loan to survive.”

Scam artists look for ways to turn a business’s or consumer’s cash into their own. Often, government-assistance programs like the PPP provide an obvious and easy target. Scammers use these governmental initiatives by pretending to be an SBA-authorized lender or similar loan program by telephone or email. In email, scammers will impersonate legitimate websites and use email addresses by changing one or two letters in the name. By telephone, scammers sometimes utilize illegal robocalls as a way to reach business owners and consumers. In both situations, scam businesses are seeking upfront payment of fees.

Attorney General Rutledge has identified tips for Arkansans to use when contacted by email or phone regarding a paycheck protection loan:

If you get an email that looks like it is from the SBA or your bank, do not click on any links. Instead, go directly to the organization's website for information;

The government will never ask you to pay up front and it will not call to ask for your Social Security, bank account or credit card number;

Be cautious about companies that offer to expedite or facilitate your ability to get PPP loans. If you are considering using an online provider or lender, stick with those you already know and trust;

Be wary of companies you've never heard of or that call or send you emails out of the blue; and

Check the spelling of email and website addresses, as scammers frequently utilize addresses that appear similar to legitimate ones in order to deceive.

For more information, or if you suspect a PPP government-assistance scam, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or oag@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
 

CALL FOR ART, SAAC TO HOST QUARANTINE ART EXHIBITS
It's time for a little fun and a little art at SAAC, socially distancing, of course! The South Arkansas Arts Center invites all area artists, students and adults, to participate in two upcoming art shows focusing on art created during quarantine. It is time to get your artwork ready for "Kitchen Table Art: Art Created During School Closures" with delivery days for student artwork on June 1-2, and "Under Quarantine: Art Under Unprecedented Circumstances" with delivery days for artwork by adults on June 26 & 29, at SAAC! 

"Kitchen Table Art: Art Created During School Closures," the student exhibit and competition, will hang in the Merkle and Price Galleries for viewing June 4-26, with pickup date of June 29. Ready to hang or display artwork can be delivered to SAAC 9am-4pm on June 1-2. Divisions are Grades K-4, Grades 5-8, and Grades 9-12. These divisions should be entered as grade just completed. Awards in each division will be presented. Prizes are: First Place $75; Second Place $50; Third Place $25. Honorable mentions may be awarded with no cash prizes. Any medium may be used, any 2D or 3D art will be accepted and only one piece allowed per student. SAAC membership not required to exhibit student work, and no entry fee is required.

To enter, select one piece of artwork created by the student while working at home during the quarantine (March 14-present). It needs to be ready to display in the gallery. That means 2D work should be able to hang on the wall — in a frame, velcro on the back, pins to hang it from. 3D work is not required to hang.

Complete the online entry form. Rather than a paper entry form, visit the SAAC website and type the information in — student's name, grade just completed, title of the work, medium, and basic contact information for the family.
And then simply drop the artwork off at SAAC on June 1-2. Be sure the student's name, an email or phone number are also on the back of the piece.

"Under Quarantine: Art Under Unprecedented Circumstances," the adult exhibit and competition, is open to all adults age 18 and over. These ready to hang or display works should be delivered to SAAC on June 26, 9am-noon, and on June 29, 9am-4pm. The exhibit will be available for viewing July 1-July 28, with pickup date of July 29. Prizes will be awarded for Best of Show $200; First Place $150; Second Place $100; Third Place $50. Honorable mentions may be awarded with no cash prize. Any medium may be used, any 2D or 3D art will be accepted and two pieces will be accepted. SAAC membership is not required to participate, and there is no entry fee. For more information or clarification, email kelly@saac-arts.org.

To enter, just select your artwork created while working at home during the quarantine (March 14-present). It needs to be ready to display in the gallery. That means 2D work should be able to hang on the wall — in a frame, velcro on the back, pins to hang it from. 3D work is not required to hang.

Complete the online entry form. Rather than a paper entry form, visit the SAAC website and type the information: name, title of the work, medium, and price, if the work is for sale (SAAC takes 35% commission on all sales). Work not for sale may be marked NFS, or price may be left blank.

Drop the artwork off at SAAC on June 26 or 29. Be sure the artist's name, an email or phone number are also on the back of the piece. Adults over age 18. Prizes are: Best of Show $200; First Place $150; Second Place $100; Third Place $50. Honorable mentions may be awarded with no cash prize.

Both exhibits will be open to small groups for viewing in the SAAC galleries. For more information on these two fun exhibits, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

May 26, 2020

STREET CRIMES UNIT BUSTS  CAMDEN RESIDENCE
On Friday May 22, 2020 at approximately 12:00 pm, the Street Crimes Unit (SCU), which consists of the Camden Police Department, Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office, Drug Task Force, East Camden Police Department, Chidester Police Department, Bearden Police Department and the Stephen’s police Department, executed a drug search warrant at 186 Walnut Street om Camden. AR. The residence belongs to a Tommy Nelson

During the search approximate an ounce of Methamphetamine was located inside the house and/or on person(s) arrested inside the house. The resident had numerous items of drug paraphernalia throughout the residence to include two loaded syringes of meth. Approximately $5,000 in cash was seized by the SCU.

Several individuals were arrested on drug charges to include Possession of a Controlled Substance with Purpose to Deliver Meth, Possession of Meth, Possession of Crack Cocaine, Possession of a Firearm by Certain Person, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Maintaining a Drug Premises and Proximity to Certain Facilities (in this case a church.)

The individuals arrested were as folio in Lindsey, Everett Forester, Russell Thibault, John Storms, Brandi Armstrong, Thurman Leak and Tommy Nelson. A First Appearance was conducted on the arrestees later that afternoon. Tommy Nelson who was charged with most of the drug related offenses was given a $150,000 secure Bond.

While at the station two of the individuals arrested at the resident obtained more charges. Thurman Leak damaged the wall in the booking room and will be taken back to court today (Tuesday) on a Criminal Mischief charge. Franklin Lindsey bit Officer Lane's fingers and will be taken back to court today on a Battery on Law Enforcement charge.

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 25, 2020
As of Tuesday afternoon, the number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas had increased to 6,180. That's an increase of 151 from Monday. 1,729 cases are considered active. The death toll has increased by two, up to 119. Testing continues to increase, as 2,984 tests were administered over the past 24 hours. The positivity rate remains low at 3.3%. The number of hospitalizations has increased to 107. 

Governor Asa Hutchinson praised the increased testing effort at his Tuesday press conference. The state passed the goal of 60,000 tests during the month of May. As of Tuesday afternoon, 61,922 tests had been conducted during the month of May. 

As the statistics show a second peak in COVID-19 cases is occurring, Governor Hutchinson says the state is now at a critical point. Of the 151 new cases reported in the last 24 hours, 150 of those were detected out in the community. Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. Nate Smith, reported that there is now an uptick of cases showing up in the Latino community:"

Dr. Smith emphasized what Arkansans need to continue to do as we move forward:"

Governor Hutchinson announced Tuesday that Dr. Nate Smith will be leaving Arkansas on August 28th. He has accepted a position with the Center of Disease Control in Atlanta. Governor Hutchinson named Dr. Jose Romero as the Interim Secretary of the Department of Health. Dr. Romero is a Professor of Pediatrics at UAMS. 

Governor Hutchinson also gave an update on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The Governor says that $16.8 million has now been paid out to over 15,000 claimants, as the staff at the Department of Finance and Administration worked through the holiday weekend to process claims. 

Again, there are now 6,180 COVID-19 cases in Arkansas as of Tuesday afternoon. 1,729 are considered active. The death toll due to the coronavirus now stands at 119. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.

 

COVID-19 UPDATE – MAY 25, 2020 AM
As of late Sunday afternoon, 147 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death were reported, bringing the state's cumulative total to 5,922 cases and 116 fatalities, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. Active cases, that excludes people who have recovered or died, stood at 1,658 Sunday. 

The number of new cases was in line with an increased number of infections last week in what Governor Asa Hutchinson described in his most recent press conference on Saturday afternoon as a second peak, after an initial crest in late April. In addressing five areas of concern on Saturday, Governor Hutchinson says that the number of increased COVID-19 cases are due in part to a record level of testing being conducted around the state:"

 The Governor says that increased testing has improved the early warning system, which is like radar to know where cases occur in Arkansas. Increased testing also helps improve contact tracing, the method of finding and getting in touch with Arkansans who may have been exposed to the virus, to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus. Governor Hutchinson says another encouraging sign is that the number of hospitalizations has remained flat:"

Governor Hutchinson also remains optimistic because the positivity rate of testing has remained steady at about five percent - that's about half of the national rate. Also, Arkansas has one of the lowest death rates among states around the country per capita. However, Governor Hutchinson warns that residents must continue to show discipline with personal safety habits:"

In other COVID-19 news, Governor Hutchinson recognized the state employees in the Department of Finance and Administration who worked throughout the holiday weekend processing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims. The Governor says that 12,930 claimants had been approved and received payments over the weekend.

To help with technical questions and initiatives related to contact tracing, Governor Hutchinson announced that he will appoint a technical advisory board. Austin Porter, the state's deputy chief science officer, will serve as its chairman. The board will evaluate new technologies being used across the country and make recommendations to the Governor. The resources could include an app to assist with contact tracing. 

Again, there are now 5,922 COVID-19 cases as of Sunday afternoon, with 1,658 considered active. The death toll due to the coronavirus in Arkansas stands at 116. Locally, in Ouachita County, there are ten cases with nine recoveries, leaving one case still considered active. In Union County, there are 157 cases with 96 recoveries, and six deaths reported, leaving 55 cases still considered active. In Columbia County, there are 20 cases, 12 recoveries, and two deaths reported, leaving the number of active cases at six. In Nevada County, there are four cases with three recoveries. In Clark County, there are 36 cases with 34 recoveries. And according to the Department of Health, Calhoun County is the only county in the state that hasn't reported at least one coronavirus case. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned."
 

FIRST FRIDAY: MONTHLY MARKET IN CAMDEN
First Friday: Monthly Market in Camden AR is excited to announce our first ever “Drive Thru Farmer’s Market” on Friday, May 29th from 4PM till 6PM on Jefferson St in downtown Camden.
Vendors will be on hand selling vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat, honey, jam & jelly, baked goods and flowers.  Jefferson St. will be turned into a one-way street for the market.  Customer may enter from either Harrison Ave or Jefferson St. to travel East towards Adams Ave. 

Be sure to watch the First Friday: Monthly Market in Camden AR Facebook page to see which vendors will be present along with what items each one will have for sale on that evening. Pricing will also be listed on the Facebook Page to assist customers in being prepared prior to getting to the market.  Many vendors will also be taking pre-orders to make the purchasing go smoother.

Customers will not get out of their vehicles.  They will simply pull up to any vendor they wish to purchase from and hand off will be made off from the vendor.

Watch the Facebook page for specials being offered from downtown businesses during the time of the farmer’s market.

Also, to compliment the market, Ouachita County Extension Service will be offering Zoom classes prior to each market on various services dealing with a farmer’s market.  Classes will be free of charge.

This next week’s class will take place on Thursday, May 28th on the subject of “Cooking with Herbs”.  Watch for times and how to sign up.

Farmer’s Markets will continue on either a weekly or every other week schedule.  Watch for future details regarding schedule.

For more information:
firstfridaycamdenar@gmail.com
Facebook:  First Friday: Monthly Market in Camden AR
Text or Phone:  870-807-1468

 

BOOZMAN SECURES EXPANDED CONSERVATION OF WATERFOWL HABITAT IN SOUTHERN ARKANSAS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, championed federal funding for the conservation of additional waterfowl habitat at the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge in Ashley and Union Counties.

“Arkansas’s world-class duck hunting tradition is only enhanced when we preserve wildlife habitat. The expansion of the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge will allow for responsible conservation efforts to ensure future generations of outdoor enthusiasts can continue participating in and building on one of our state’s favorite pastimes that also drives significant economic activity,” Boozman sad.

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission is responsible for directing funds raised by the sale of the Duck Stamp to waterfowl habitat and hunting conservation. Earlier this month, commission members approved more than $18.4 million to conserve 9,276 acres adjacent to the existing refuge land to protect and restore habitat for wintering waterfowl.

The commission approved six Migratory Bird Conservation Act proposals and the slate of North American Wetlands Conservation Act Standard Grant proposals in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Boozman has been a member since 2018.

May 22, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 22, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson began Friday's COVID-19 Press Conference with an update on the Arkansas economy, as he reported the state's 10.2% unemployment rate for April 2020 sits roughly 4% lower than the National average of 14.7%.

Hutchinson also revealed that the rate equates to 102,000 Arkansans being unemployed now in comparison to two months ago.

In terms of Financial Programs, The Governor says 8,198 Arkansas Ready For Business grant applications have been approved and those funds are being dispersed today and over the weekend. Pandemic Unemployment assistance is also on the way for gig economy workers and independent contractors, as the Governor assures the website is secure despite the recent security breach that was assessed by the FBI.

As far as coronavirus cases go, the total number reported in Arkansas is now 5,612, with 1,470 of those considered active. The number of patients hospitalized from the illness is 81, with 14 on a ventilator. There are now 4,029 people who have recovered from COVID-19 in the state, and the death count is now 113.

Dr. Nathaniel Smith listed the Counties where the newest cases have been reported from, noting that 11 sourced from Sevier, 22 from Benton, 32 out of Washington, 19 came from Pulaski, 10 from Crittenden County and 8 from Greene County. All other counties announcing new cases had 5 or fewer to report.

Arkansas Parks and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Stacey Hurst provided Memorial Day updates on recently opened recreational areas and issued a reminder to watch the water levels when boating this weekend Due to recent heavy rains.

The COVID-19 update ended with words from Arkansas Veteran's Affairs Director, Nate Todd, who reports 90 Veterans tested for COVID-19 in The Department's North Little Rock location all turned up negative results recently. Todd also says Facebook live-streamed videos of Memorial Day Services will be available online Monday, May 25th as well.

Again, Arkansas now has 5,612 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 1,470 considered active and 81 patients hospitalized with the illness. There are 14 hospitalized patients on a ventilator and the state recovery count has reached 4,029. The Arkansas COVID-19 death count has now reached 113. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

CAMDEN PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR ANNOUNCES OPENING OF SPLASH PAD
Public Works Director Kevin Franklin and his staff are happy to announce the opening of the Splash Pad Memorial Day, Monday, May 25th. The Splash Pad will be open from 9 A.M. to 8 P.M. every day starting Memorial Day until May 31st. Beginning June 1st, the Splash Pad will be closed every Monday and Tuesday unless otherwise specified. Taking into account the safety and security of our community during these uncertain times, the Splash Pad will be limited to just 20 participants at a time. The staff will manage rotating two-hour play sessions with one-hour breaks between sessions to conduct cleaning. All sessions are first come first serve and any lines which form must abide by the designated social distancing recommendations.

DIRECTIVE FOR COMMUNITY AND SCHOOL SPONSORED TEAM SPORTS
Effective: June 1, 2020
The Secretary of Health, in consultation with the Governor, has sole authority over all instances of quarantine, isolation, and restrictions on commerce and travel throughout Arkansas, as necessary and appropriate to control disease in the state of Arkansas as authorized by Ark. Code Ann. §20-7-109--110. Based on available scientific evidence, it is necessary and appropriate to take further action to ensure that COVID-19 remains controlled and that residents and visitors in Arkansas remain safe. 

On March 26, 2020, the Secretary of Health in consultation with the Governor placed limitations on public gatherings. This directive provides requirements for lifting limitations to community based and school sponsored team sports through a phased approach for all ages of athletes. Each phase has a set of General Requirements that apply across all team sports with specific requirements applied based on the nature of the contact required by the rules or conditions of the sport.  

This directive does not include intercollegiate athletic team sports. This directive allows bands to practice marching and the use of non-wind instruments. However, due to the potential for increased production of respiratory droplets in wind instruments, they should not be used at this time. 

General Requirements
Maintain minimum physical distancing of six feet between participants at all times, except when actively participating in the sports activity.
Athletes, Coaches, and All Staff must be screened prior to any activity by asking the following questions and excluded if the answer is yes.
Have had a fever of 100.4°F or greater in the last 2 days
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
Coaches and All Staff must have temperature checked by digital thermometer prior to entry, and those whose temperature is greater than 100.4°F must be excluded
Face coverings that completely cover the nose and mouth are required for everyone 10 years of age or older.
Athletes must wear a face covering when not actively participating in the sports activity.
Face coverings or masks must be worn in sports where a face covering is not inhibitory.
Coaches and Staff must wear a face covering at all times.
Use of communal spas, showers, saunas or other similar equipment are prohibited. Locker rooms may only be used for storage of personal items. Social distancing of 6 feet must be maintained in the locker room.
An alcohol-based hand sanitizer or adequate handwashing facilities must be provided for use by all attendees.
Sports  equipment, restrooms, lockers, water fountains and other high touch surfaces must be sanitized frequently during each event. For a list of cleaning products that will eliminate the Covid-19 virus, visit https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2.
Avoid non-sport related personal contact at all times. This includes, but is not limited to, huddles, high-fives, hand shaking, fist bumping, and chest bumping.
For games, competitions, tournaments, meets, and other athletic events held in a facility, the facility hosting the event must follow the current Directive for Large Indoor or Large Outdoor Venues. Spectators are covered under these Directives.
For training and conditioning held in an athletic facility, the facility must follow the current Directive for Gym, Fitness Center, Athletic Club and Weight Rooms.
Concession Stands may operate but must follow all applicable sections of the Directive for Resuming Restaurant Dine-In Operations.
Admission and gate ticket sales should be taken online when possible.

Close-Contact Team Sports
Example: Basketball, Wrestling, Football, Cheerleading, Dance, Volleyball, Soccer, Martial Arts
eam practice and/or competition is prohibited due to the close personal contact that is required or anticipated.  Individual practice is permitted.
Cheerleading and Dance may practice under the Directive for Gym, Fitness Center, Athletic Club and Weight Rooms.
Conditioning and training may occur if the following conditions are implemented, in addition to the General Requirements:
Group size must be sufficiently limited to maintain 6 feet between each person, including staff, whenever in an indoor or outdoor enclosed space.
When using weight rooms, practicing calisthenics, running, or other conditioning training where vigorous exercise occurs, must maintain proper spacing from others by working out with 12 feet between each person. This may require closing or moving some equipment. 
Spotters are allowed on the outside of weight bars on each side, for safety reasons. Physical distancing must be maintained when not actively performing spotting duties.
Individual practice participants should use their own equipment, if possible.

Limited-Contact Team Sports
Examples: Baseball, Softball, Golf, Track and Field, Cross Country, Bowling, Tennis, Gymnastics, Shooting Sports, Swimming, Individual Dance Competitions
Competition is allowed for participants of any age. However, participants should refrain from competition if:
They are 65 years of age or older.
They have underlying health conditions including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, severe obesity, asthma or weakened immunity

Practice for all ages may be permitted if the following conditions are implemented:
Player group size must be sufficiently limited to maintain 6 feet between each person, including staff, whenever possible.
When using weight rooms, calisthenics, or other conditioning training must maintain proper spacing from others by working out with 12 feet between each person. (This may require closing or moving some equipment).
When appropriate, participants should provide their own equipment, if possible. If shared equipment is used, disinfection is required frequently during each event or between each use.

ADH will continue to closely monitor the evolving novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. These measures will remain in place until data on the severity of the local COVID-19 epidemic indicate it is safe to further relax measures. This Directive will be reevaluated on June 30, 2020.

Resources
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
https://uamshealth.com/coronavirus/kb/expert-recommendations-and-considerations-for-high-school-athletics/
https://www.aspenprojectplay.org/coronavirus-and-youth-sports
https://wagolf.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Golfing-Restart-Requirements_Final.pdf
https://www.thengfq.com/2020/05/protecting-golfers-and-course-staff-amid-coronavirus-outbreak/

https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN HONORS SACRIFICE OF OUR FALLEN HEROES
Says, 'we must remain committed to honoring the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice' 
 LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Tim Griffin today issued the following statement to commemorate Memorial Day:

"On this solemn day, we must remain committed to honoring the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom and work to ensure future generations understand the magnitude of this day and the price paid by our fallen heroes. During this COVID-19 pandemic, I want to encourage all Arkansans to continue to follow the guidance from the Arkansas Department of Health and enjoy a safe holiday weekend with family and friends."

WARREN TO SERVE AS SUPERINTENDENT OF PINE BLUFF AND DOLLARWAY SCHOOL DISTRICTS
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key announced today that Barbara Warren will serve a dual role as superintendent of the Dollarway and Pine Bluff School Districts for the 2020-2021 school year. Warren’s new role will begin July 1. She will replace Dr. Jeremy Owoh at Pine Bluff who is leaving to become a deputy superintendent in the Little Rock School District. 

“Ms. Warren is uniquely qualified to serve in this innovative role due to her familiarity with the community and the similar nature of the academic improvement processes in both districts,” Key said. “Progress has been made in the Dollarway and Pine Bluff School Districts, and the appointment of Ms. Warren in this dual role will ensure growth continues toward providing quality educational options for all students.”

Warren has served as the superintendent of the Dollarway School District since December 2015. Her efforts in Dollarway have stabilized the district’s finances and staffing, and the academic system has improved during her tenure through a focus on student learning through the Professional Learning Communities process. Under Dr. Owoh’s leadership, Pine Bluff is pursuing a similar trajectory in addressing financial issues and improving student learning through the PLC process. 

In the coming weeks, Warren will begin hosting community forums electronically and in person, pending Arkansas Department of Health guidance. These meetings will give the public the opportunity to provide feedback about collaboration, how the districts can improve efficiency through shared services, and plans for the upcoming school year.

Parents and students should not anticipate changes in the day-to-day operations of the districts. Both districts will continue to function as they have in the past but with a single leader.

BOOZMAN JOINS BIPARTISAN BILL TO EXPAND TELEHEALTH IN RURAL COMMUNITIES

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce the Health Care Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act that would bolster funding for health care providers in rural areas for the expansion of broadband and telehealth services.

“Telehealth provides a critical avenue for Arkansans to access medical providers without an unnecessary trip to the doctor’s office. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need for this connection to health services. This legislation will ensure more health care facilities are equipped with reliable, high-speed internet to better serve their patients,” Boozman said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the demand for telehealth services, allowing providers to treat patients safely without putting themselves or their patients at risk. However, many providers – especially in rural and hard-to-reach communities – do not have adequate resources to handle this surge in demand. This bill would ensure that these providers have the resources they need to improve connectivity and increase telehealth capacity.
 
The Health Care Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act will:

Provide $2 billion in additional support for the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program for the coronavirus response.

Increase the subsidy rate for RHC Health Care Connect Fund participants during the pandemic, which they can put toward additional telehealth resources.

Enable mobile and non-rural health care facilities to engage in telehealth during the pandemic under the RHC Program.

Eliminate red tape and streamline the program’s distribution of funding so that health care providers can quickly implement telehealth applications and treat patients faster.

Delay for one year the implementation of FCC rules that would severely impact support for some of the program’s most rural health care providers.

Boozman is joined in this bipartisan effort by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Angus King (I-ME), Gary Peters (D-MI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Ed Markey (D-MA).

“Senators Schatz, Murkowski, Boozman, King, Peters, Sullivan, Cramer and Markey are right to focus on ways Congress can invest now to increase connectivity-based health care solutions during this emergency,” said Jonathan Spalter, President and CEO of the United States Telecom Association. “Investing in broadband powered telehealth can transform and expand access to vital health care services. Like the companion legislation introduced by Reps. Eshoo and Young in the House, this plan recognizes that all of our country’s hospital systems and health care providers – no matters their zip code – should have cutting edge broadband and digital technology to diagnose and treat patients.”

Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives last month and has been endorsed by the United States Telecom Association, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, America's Communications Association, the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition, the National League of Cities and the Fiber Broadband Association.

Last week Boozman, Schatz, Murkowski and King, sent a letter to congressional leadership urging inclusion of $2 billion in new funding for the RHC Program in the next coronavirus response legislation.

Boozman, a co-founder of the Senate Broadband Caucus, is a leader in fighting for increased access to high-speed internet in rural communities.

DELEGATION APPLAUDS HHS FOR AWARDING OVER $72 MILLION IN CORONAVIRUS RELIEF TO NURSING HOMES IN ARKANSAS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding over $72 million in additional relief funds to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) in Arkansas to help them combat the devastating effects of COVID-19.

The investment—totaling $72,410,000—will be distributed directly to SNFs in Arkansas. It is part of the nearly $4.9 billion allocated by HHS to impacted SNFs across the country and may be used to address critical needs such as labor, testing capacity, personal protective equipment and a range of other expenses directly linked to COVID-19.

“These are particularly trying times for residents in nursing homes, their loved ones and those who work in these facilities. As concerns regarding additional outbreaks remain high, this investment will help protect the most vulnerable among us and help keep those who care for them safe,” members said.

This funding, which supplements previously announced awards, will be used to support nursing homes suffering from significant expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19. It comes from legislation Congress passed, with the Arkansas delegation’s support, to address the coronavirus pandemic.

Distribution of the funds will be based on both a fixed basis and variable basis. Each SNF will receive a fixed distribution of $50,000, plus a distribution of $2,500 per bed. All certified SNFs with six or more certified beds are eligible for this targeted distribution.

May 21, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 21, 2020
A lengthy list of guidelines for community and school sports teams were announced during Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 press conference update Thursday, and the new rules will be effective June 1st. Although some sports have been given the green light to begin practicing, others remain prohibited due to precautions against the spread of COVID-19.

Close contact sports such as wrestling, basketball, football, volleyball and soccer will not be permitted to practice or compete yet, but limited contact sports such as track, swimming and baseball will be allowed with several restrictions.

The Governor also reported Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro will be reopening this week. Hutchinson recognized the significant economic role the park plays in the Southwest Arkansas region, and COVID-19 guideline information for Crater of Diamonds can be found at ArkansasStateParks.com

As far as cases go, the largest single-day increase in Arkansas Coronavirus reports was announced Thursday as more than 400 COVID-19 cases have been added to the statewide count, bringing the total number to 5,458. Officials say the cases were already known of, but had not yet been added to the count, and more than half of them are sourced from Correctional facilities.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in the natural state is currently 1,433, with 86 patients hospitalized and 14 on ventilators. There are now 3,915 people who have recovered from the virus, while the state death count has reached 110.

The Governor called upon Dr. Jose Romero, Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, for a public announcement regarding a concerning development found in children after a COVID-19 diagnosis.

Lastly, Arkansas Economic Task Force Recovery Leader Steart Walton briefly gave an update on how the group is organizing plans and resources for business owners and entrepreneurs. Walton said a summary report of the group's work is in the works, and the report will be posted to Arkansasready.com, which is the same website where Arkansans can seek needed businesses support information.  We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

MORE THAN 675 ORGANIZATIONS IN 67 COUNTIES RECEIVED $1,000 COVID-19 MINI-GRANTS FROM ARKANSAS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
Little Rock, Ark. (May 20, 2020) – Two months after the creation of its COVID-19 Relief Fund to assist in pandemic relief, Arkansas Community Foundation has awarded $1,000 rapid response mini-grants to 678 organizations in 149 cities and towns located in 67 counties.

“These mini-grants support immediate, essential community needs in human services, food, health, housing and education,” said Heather Larkin, President and CEO of the Community Foundation. “Recipients range from youth basketball leagues distributing food to hungry families to summer reading programs opening early, to the purchase of software that allows child abuse hotline staff to accept calls at home.”

A list of the organizations who have received mini-grants is available at www.arcf.org/covid19.  Community Foundation Phase Two Adaptation Grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 are now being processed and will be awarded by the end of May. These grants will continue to help organizations who are adapting their organizations to meet the ongoing needs of Arkansans affected by the pandemic and shore up critical systems like healthcare, education and food distribution.

The total amount raised for the COVID-19 Relief Fund has topped $3.4 million, with donations coming from the Community Foundation, other Arkansas foundations, businesses and individuals. Called the Gratitude Report, a list of donors to the fund is available at  www.arcf.org/covid19.

“The response of the public to requests for donations has been amazing,” said Larkin. “Just as impressive has been the response of the Community Foundation staff, Board and volunteers who have faithfully reviewed grant applications every day since we started accepting applications. Our finance staff members have processed and mailed grant checks at a record pace.”

The COVID-19 Relief Fund was created March 18, 2020. Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the Community Foundation’s fund as a way for Arkansans to best help those in need during the pandemic. In addition, the Arkansas Republican and Democratic Parties jointly requested donations to the fund.

Donations are still being accepted online at www.arcf.org/covid19 or by mailing a check to Arkansas Community Foundation, 5 Allied Drive, Suite 51110, Little Rock, AR 72202. All donations to this fund will be granted to Arkansas organizations working to serve the state’s most vulnerable populations and those disproportionately affected by the coronavirus and its economic fallout.

Arkansas Community Foundation offers tools to help Arkansans protect, grow and direct their charitable dollars as they learn more about community needs. The Foundation typically issues about 2,500 grants totaling $20 million dollars each year to Arkansas nonprofits. By making grants and sharing knowledge, the Community Foundation supports charitable programs that work for Arkansas and partners to create new initiatives that address the gaps. Since 1976, the Community Foundation has provided more than $250 million in grants and partnered with thousands of Arkansans to help them improve our neighborhoods, our towns and our entire state. Contributions to the Community Foundation, its funds and any of its 28 affiliates are fully tax deductible.

 

SURVEY: MOST SMALL BUSINESS HAVE RECEIVED PPP LOAN FUNDING, FEWER HAVE RECEIVED AN EIDL LOAN 
LITTLE ROCK (May 21, 2020) – The NFIB Research Center released a survey today on the status of the small business loan programs. Among NFIB members, 80% applied for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and almost 90% have received the loan. Most of the loans were deposited between mid-April and mid-May. 

“Small businesses continue to face many challenges in operating their business in these difficult times,” said Holly Wade, NFIB Director of Research & Policy Analysis. “Congress and the Administration have the authority to further lighten the burden for many of their immediate concerns, especially in offering more flexibility for PPP loans.”

Key findings from the NFIB survey include: 

The majority of small businesses expect their expenses to be forgiven. 

Over half (54%) of owners with a PPP loan are expecting all of their expenses to be forgiven. 

Twenty-seven percent of borrowers expect at least 75% or more of loan expenses to be forgiven. 

Very few PPP borrowers are interested in using the funds as low-interest, two-year loans.  

Complying with the PPP loan and loan forgiveness terms and conditions is challenging for small businesses. 

Twelve percent of borrowers report that spending the PPP loan within an 8-week forgiveness period is very difficult and 34% find the requirement somewhat difficult. 

Almost one-in-five borrowers find the forgiveness requirement that the borrower’s employee headcount match the pre-crisis employee headcount very difficult to reach since many businesses have already laid-off workers due to slower sales or suspended business activity. 

Another 28% find it somewhat difficult to maintain or return to their pre-crisis workforce level. 

The 75% payroll rule is difficult for 38% of small business borrowers to manage as 14% find it very difficult and 24% find it somewhat difficult 

Owners have questions about how to spend the funds. 

Nearly three-fourths of small business borrowers find the terms and conditions of the PPP loan difficult to understand with 22% finding them very difficult. 

Additional financial support over the next 12 months may be needed for many small business owners. Almost one-quarter of those who have taken out one or both loans anticipate that they will need additional support and another 54% do not know yet. Only 20% of borrowers do not anticipate needing additional support. 

Some small business owners find themselves competing with the unemployment benefits offered through the CARES Act. 

Eighteen percent of small business owners have had an employee decline a job offer because they wanted to stay on UI. 

Another 6% of owners have increased salaries to encourage a worker to come back to their job. 

Five percent of small business owners said that an employee has remained in their job because they also received supplemental UI benefits with reduced hours.  

The full survey is available here. 

About NFIB
For more than 75 years, NFIB has been advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven. Since our founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses, and remains so today. For more information, please visit nfib.com.

 

ARKANSAS RECEIVES OVER $5 MILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDING FOR CORONAVIRUS TESTING IN RURAL COMMUNITIES
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding Arkansas over $5 million in funding to expand access to COVID-19 testing in rural communities.

The investment—totaling $5,193,449—will be distributed to rural health clinics in Arkansas. It is part of $225 million allocated by HHS to expand COVID-19 testing in the nation’s rural communities.

The funds are designated for planning, implementing and conducting COVID-19 testing. The monies can also be used for testing supply procurement, employee training and data reporting, as well as the leasing, construction and retrofitting of properties, temporary structures and facilities to support COVID-19 testing.

“Rural America must not be left behind as we work to expand coronavirus testing across the nation. These communities are vital to a successful economic restart, especially in a largely rural state such as Arkansas. These funds will help state officials carry out their plan to reopen Arkansas in a safe manner,” members said.

Funding was made available with the support of the Arkansas Congressional Delegation’s approval of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act that was signed into law last month.


COTTON STATEMENT ON WITHDRAWAL FROM OPEN SKIES TREATY
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after news reports of the president’s decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty:

“Today the president has taken another positive step to end America’s dependence on dysfunctional and broken treaties. The Open Skies Treaty started life as a good-faith agreement between major powers and died an asset of Russian intelligence. For Mr. Putin, the treaty was just another scheme to snatch a military and surveillance advantage over the U.S. and NATO. Further, the treaty was technically defunct, as outdated and irrelevant as the VHS recorder or cassette deck. I’m particularly heartened that U.S. taxpayers won’t need to pay nearly a quarter-billion dollars in recapitalization money for our OC-135 Open Skies Aircraft fleet. Those funds would be better served strengthening our nuclear deterrent, which is a far more effective guarantee of peace between major powers than obsolete treaties.”

Background:
Senator Cotton has long advocated for a withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty:
September 12, 2018: Cotton Statement on Dispute over Open Skies
October 8, 2019: Cotton Statement on Russia’s Open Skies Treaty Violations
October 30, 2019: Cotton Resolution Calls for Withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty
December 10, 2019: End the Open Skies Treaty – Washington Post Op-Ed by Senator Cotton

 
 
 

MAY 20, 2020

COVID 19 PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 20, 2020
"With Governor Asa Hutchinson visiting President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in Washington D.C. Wednesday, the COVID-19 press conference update was provided by Arkansas Department of Health Secretary, Dr. Nathaniel Smith.

The Coronavirus is still on the rise throughout the natural state, though no new counties have reported cases since Sunday, and only 1,044 of the 5,003 total cases reported are considered active. There are 79 people who remain hospitalized with the illness, and 16 of them are on ventilators. The death count continues to increase, as the count has now reached 107. Four out of the five latest COVID-19 deaths in Arkansas were reportedly nursing-home residents, andthe total number of Arkansans considered to be recovered from the Coronavirus is 3,852.

Dr. Smith reports single day COVID-19 testing hit a new record high with 4,396 tests conducted Tuesday, with only 1.9% of the results showing positive cases. This effort helps with the Governor's goal to test 60,000 residents for COVID-19 in the month of May.

Dr. Smith reports an added feature on the Dept. of Health website will provide information through a dashboard that will display numbers and Coronavirus updates. Visit healthy.arkansas.gov for more information.

A focal point made by Dr. Smith was the issue of controlling COVID-19 in the workplace, as job sites can be a risk for exposure to the virus, making workplace precautions crucial to limiting the spread. To address safe workplace conditions, the State Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Jennifer Dillaha was called up to discuss protocol in place for handling positives results in Arkansas job environments.

Dr. Dillaha also reports that spacing workers out for social distancing, utilizing plexiglass, and sanitizing are practices that can be implemented in working environments to keep the goal of businesses staying open intact.

As far as future announcements go, Dr. Smith says the Governor will make a decision on teen sports and camps this summer at a press conference to be held later this week.

Again, there are now 5,003 total COVID-19 cases reported, with 1,044 of those active. There are 79 people currently hospitalized with the virus, and 16 of those patients remain on ventilators. The state death toll by Coronavirus in Arkansas has reached 107, while 3,852 people have recovered. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

FEEDING PEOPLE AND PETS
Please help us help others in our community during these unprecedented times. Donate can or dry goods for people and/or pet food or cash donations and we will purchase these items.  Lots of families in Camden and Ouachita County are hurting and this food giveaway will show our love for this community.

Drop Off Locations (Camden, AR):
Christian Health Center—1115 Fairview Rd
Jim Golden Ford—790 California Ave
Waggin’ Tails—1825 Fairview Rd

There is also a fundraiser on Facebook. Find Food for People and Pets to donate that way if you wish.

Date of the food giveaway will be ANNOUNCED on June 3rd on Radio Works Stations and on Facebook

When giveaway date is determined, food giveaway will be held at the Victory Church Parking lot beginning at 9 a.m.

ARKANSAS HEALTH & WELLNESS, ARKANSAS TOTAL CARE AND QUEST DIAGNOSTICS TEAM UP TO INCREASE ACCESS TO COVID-19 TESTING IN UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES
1,000 COVID-19 test kits will be distributed each week to Federally Qualified Health Centers in Arkansas
Little Rock, AR, May 20, 2020 – Arkansas Health & Wellness and Arkansas Total Care announced today a collaboration with Quest Diagnostics (NYSE: DGX), the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services, to increase access to real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) COVID-19 testing in critical areas of need in Arkansas. Through this collaboration, Arkansas Health & Wellness will facilitate the distribution of approximately 1,000 Quest COVID-19 test kits each week to Community Health Centers of Arkansas.  The FQHCs will conduct testing as part of a broader initiative to test persons who are symptomatic and asymptomatic in our underserved communities.

“I am delighted to hear of the partnership between Arkansas Health and Wellness (AHW), Arkansas Total Care and the Community Health Centers of Arkansas (CHCA) to increase our real-time testing capacity in Arkansas,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson.  “This private sector partnership plays an important role in our effort to reach 60,000 tests per month. This initiative ensures Arkansans will have access to critical testing and assist us in moving forward to our goal of Phase 2 and beyond. Together, we will keep our families safe and emerge stronger than ever..”

This collaboration leverages Health Plan’s extensive network of critical safety net providers to ensure that testing capacity is routed to where it is needed most. As part of the collaboration, Health Plan will provide oversight and training to ensure test kits are received and processed efficiently. Distribution of kits will begin in May, and Quest Diagnostics will conduct the COVID-19 testing through its network of laboratories across the United States.

“Collaborations like these allow us to leverage our capabilities to do our part in making sure our communities, including those who need it most, have access to the health care services they need,” said John Ryan, President and CEO, of Arkansas Health & Wellness, Arkansas Total Care.

LaShannon Spencer, CEO of Community Health Centers of Arkansas (CHCA), has been a strong advocate for partnering with entities to improve access for some of the most vulnerable populations around the state of Arkansas. "COVID-19 has impacted nearly every corner of the state and impacted many lives for years to come. Every day is filled with more changes of how we are to live and work. Even though the way in which medicine is practiced will change, partnerships with key business entities like Arkansas Health & Wellness and Arkansas Total Care will be critical for our future. That's why I value such partnerships with each of these Arkansas-based health plans. "I am pleased to see Arkansas Health & Wellness and Arkansas Total Care supporting targeted statewide testing for our health centers. It is a key first step and an important investment in future sustainability in our rural health system," said LaShannon Spencer.

Arkansas Health & Wellness/Arkansas Total Care members are encouraged to contact the Community Health Centers of Arkansas at 1-833-508-0774 for additional information about testing. Members can also find more information about COVID-19 and how Arkansas Health & Wellness can support them at ARHealthWellness.com.

OUACHITA COUNTY COURTHOUSE PHASE 1 OPENING PROCEDURES
The Ouachita County Courthouse has announced the procedures for the Phase 1 re-opening of the County Courthouse. If you can conduct your business outside the courthouse, please do so. If you must conduct your business inside the Courthouse, you must enter downstairs at the security door. Upon arrival, your temperature will be taken and a questionnaire will be filled out. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided for you along with hand sanitizer.

Once you have entered the building go directly to the office where you need to conduct business. No more than two in an office at a time. Those doing research should be prepared to wait.

You will exit through the Lobby Door located on the West Side of the building.

CITY OF CAMDEN AIRPORT COMMISSION TO MEET
The City of Camden Airport Commission will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, May 22, 2020 at 11:30a.m. at the Airport Terminal located at 255 Airport Road, Camden, Arkansas. CODVIC-19 Precautions will be in place.

OUACHITA COUNTY MEMORIAL DAY SCHEDULE
The Ouachita County Courthouse and the Ouachita County Exension Office will be closed for Memorial Day on Monday, March 25th. The Ouachita County Sanitation will run on regular schedule. Ouachita County Officials wish you all a safe and happy Memorial Day.

 

RUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES OVER $550 MILLION SETTLEMENT WITH NATION'S LARGEST SUBPRIME AUTO FINANCING COMPANY
Affected Arkansans to Receive $30 Million in Direct Payments and Debt Relief
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced a settlement with Santander Consumer USA Inc. (Santander) that includes approximately $550 million in relief for consumers with more relief in additional deficiency waivers expected. The settlement resolves an investigation conducted by a coalition of 34 attorneys general into allegations that Santander violated consumer protection laws by knowingly placing subprime consumers into high-risk auto loans who had a great probability of default. This settlement, filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, provides close to $30 million in direct payments and debt relief for over 13,000 Arkansas consumers harmed by Santander’s illegal conduct.

“Santander’s predatory actions targeted Arkansans for high risk auto loans, and now it will pay handsomely for its deceptive practices,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The standards set by this settlement should serve as a warning to other bad actors who take advantage of financially vulnerable Arkansans: we will do the fighting for consumers and there will be severe consequences for illegal actions.”

A coalition of states began investigating Santander in March 2015. Following the investigation, the states determined that Santander, the largest subprime auto financing company in the country, used credit-scoring models designed to target consumers who were likely to default and subsequently failed to acknowledge dealer-falsified income amounts on consumer loan applications. Under the settlement, Santander will pay $65 million to the states for consumer restitution and will waive up to $433 million for consumers who still owe on their loans.

For Arkansas, there are 10,837 Arkansas consumers who are eligible to submit a claim to receive a direct restitution payment of $224.84 each, which totals $2,436,611.87 if all who are eligible submit claims. Additionally, there are 1,288 loans to Arkansas consumers in default that qualify under this settlement owned by Santander for which Santander will immediately waive the deficiency balance, totaling $15,966.00 in debt forgiveness. There are another 1,336 defaulted loans to Arkansas consumers for which Santander will attempt to buy back and then waive the deficiency balance, which could potentially forgive an additional $10,814,000 in debt relief. Overall, approximately 13,461 affected Arkansas consumers will receive or be eligible to receive restitution in the form of direct payments or debt forgiveness potentially totaling $29,216,611.90. Additionally, Santander will pay $30,000 to the state.

Among the modifications to its business practices required under the settlement, Santander will cease extending loans to consumers with negative available incomes and will monitor loan applications for false income reporting. Santander will also cease from requiring its dealers to sell vehicle service contracts and other products and will maintain policies and procedures for deferments, forbearances, modifications and other collection matters.

Joining Rutledge in the settlement led by Illinois Attorney General are the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Rutledge urges anyone affected by Santander or has a consumer complaint to visit the Attorney General’s Office website at ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.

COTTON INTRODUCES THE NO BAILOUTS FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS ACT
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) yesterday introduced the No Bailouts for Illegal Aliens Act, which amends the CARES Act to prohibit sending future funds to states or municipalities until they certify they aren't issuing stimulus checks or other payments to those in the United States illegally.

"Congress passed the CARES Act to help workers impacted by the China virus pandemic, not to give a handout to those who broke our immigration laws. The federal government shouldn't be subsidizing states' efforts to send cash to illegal aliens," said Cotton.

Background: 

States and municipalities that refuse to comply with the certification requirement will not be eligible for CARES Act funds.

The bill will not affect any of the Paycheck Protection Program loans offered under the CARES Act to companies and nonprofit organizations.

The bill also will not affect the unemployment provisions or the relief checks offered to Americans under the CARES Act.

Yesterday, undocumented immigrants in California were able to begin filing for financial assistance in the wake for the China Virus pandemic.

 

May 19, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 19, 2020
COVID-19 is on the rise in Arkansas, as officials confirmed the total number of positive cases has now reached 4,923. Of those cases, 1,082 of those are considered active, and 3,739 people are in recovery status. In terms of the active cases, 83 are sourced from nursing homes, 369 are based out of correctional facilities and 630 come from community spread.  

There are currently 78 Arkansans who remain hospitalized with the illness, and 14 of those patients are on ventilators. The state's COVID-19 death toll is now up to 102. This information was provided during Governor Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 press conference update Tuesday afternoon.

A focal point of Tuesday's update was providing support for those who work in long term care facilities, and the direct care payments allotted for them. The Governor announced that beginning June 1st, all staff members and residents of Arkansas nursing homes will be tested for COVID-19. The total number of tests estimated to be conducted from this effort is more than 40,000.

Rachel Bunch of the Arkansas Health Care Association commended the workers caring for the patients of the nursing homes during the COVID-19 crisis. Bunch also notes that testing efforts are a priority for the safety of residents and staff alike, and more than 70 long term care residents have recovered from the virus.

Again, the number of positiveCOVID-19 cases in Arkansas has now reached 4,923. Of those cases, 1,082 of those are considered active, and 3,739 people have recovered. In terms of the active cases, 83 are sourced from nursing homes, 369 are based out of correctional facilities and 630 from community spread.  

There are currently 78 Arkansans who remain hospitalized with the illness, and 14 of those patients remain on ventilators. The state's COVID-19 death toll has reached 102. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.
 

ST. FRANCIS COUNTY MAN DIES FOLLOWING ARMED STAND-OFF
MAY 19, 2020
Robert Wayne Lawson, 64, of Forrest City was shot last night (Monday, May 18th) by an Arkansas State Trooper following an armed stand-off that had initially begun late yesterday morning involving St. Francis County sheriff’s deputies.
 
The deputies arrived at 152 county road 301 after obtaining a felony arrest warrant for Lawson who had earlier made threats to harm neighbors near his home.  As deputies approached the residence they were met by Lawson brandishing a rifle and threatening them.
                                                                                       
Sheriff’s department personnel attempted to negotiate with Lawson, asking him to surrender.  Late yesterday afternoon the sheriff’s department directed a request to the Arkansas State Police seeking assistance in arresting Lawson.
 
State police took charge of the stand-off shortly after 9 PM.  As members of a state police special weapons and tactics team approached the residence, Lawson stepped outside with a pistol and rifle and warned state troopers to leave, then fired a single shot from one of the guns.  A SWAT team member returned fire and Lawson retreated into the home.
 
State troopers subsequently placed irritant gas inside the house.  Lawson later exited the residence and was shot by a trooper at approximately 11:10 PM.  Lawson was pronounced dead at the scene.
 
Lawson’s body has been sent to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory for determination of the manner and cause of death.
 
No Arkansas State Troopers were injured during the armed stand-off and gunfire.
 
The Arkansas State Police is conducting an investigation into the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers.  The investigative file will be presented to the St. Francis County prosecuting attorney who will determine whether the use of deadly force was consistent with Arkansas laws.


ZERO TOLERANCE FOR SEAT BELT VIOLATORS SAY ARKANSAS LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS
(LITTLE ROCK) – As the summer season begins and families set out on their travels across Arkansas, state and local law enforcement officers are sending a clear message to motorists, Click It or Ticket.  Seat belt laws are enforced to protect drivers and their passengers from unnecessary injuries and death.
 
 A state seat belt enforcement campaign begins this week (May 22nd) and continues through June 7th, coinciding with one of the busiest travel and holiday weekends each year.
 
“Our law enforcement officers see firsthand the loss of life and trauma when people refuse to buckle up,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “It’s such a simple step, buckling up, when you first sit down inside a car or truck, it should be second nature.  Why wouldn’t you want to do something that increases your chances of keeping you or your family safe?”

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) analysis from 2018 documented 9,778 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes on U.S. roads.  That same year, 56 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night (6 AM - 5:59 AM) were not wearing seat belts.  The statistical study has led law enforcement agencies to place additional emphasis on nighttime seat belt enforcement.  Participating law enforcement agencies are taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, whether a violator is stopped day or night.
 
The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office urges everyone to buckle up, every trip, every time, especially during the upcoming holiday when more motorists will be on the road.
     
Arkansas law requires that all front seat passengers, not just drivers, be buckled up.  It requires all children under fifteen years of age to be properly secured in the vehicle.  A child who is less than six years of age and who weighs less than sixty pounds should be restrained in a child passenger safety seat. If the driver has a restricted license, all passengers in the vehicle must be properly buckled up.
 
For more information about "Click it or Ticket" visit trafficsafetymarketing.gov/ or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.  For more on the ongoing “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign, visit TZDarkansas.org.

OUTLETS OF LITTLE ROCK IS LOOKING FOR LOCAL ARTISTS TO FEATURE IN VIRTUAL EXHIBITION #HAPPYDISTRACTION
Submissions Open through June 7, 2020
LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS (May 2020) - Outlets of Little Rock is calling local artists to submit a photograph

of their artwork (painting, photograph, drawing, sculpture) to include in a virtual exhibition entitled #HappyDistraction. Artists can submit an Instagram ready photograph with a one sentence description, representing moments of hope, light and color during this challenging time. Selected artists’ works will be featured on Outlets of Little Rock’s social media pages and website. Visit OutletsofLittleRock.com/HappyDistraction to submit work.

“#HappyDistraction provides an opportunity to showcase the beautiful works of local artists,” says Teresa Deen, General Manager for Outlets of Little Rock. “We can all use a ray of sunshine during these challenging times and Outlets of Little Rock is excited to share the talent of local artists to brighten everyone’s day,” she adds.

AGRISAFE SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE TO RURAL NURSES
 The Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas announce three scholarships available to assist rural nurses with continuing education and training that supports the unique health needs of Arkansas farmers. 

Agriculture is a diverse industry and occurs in some of the more remote parts of the country. The risks and occupational exposures associated with farming and ranching are often not familiar to healthcare workers in rural communities. Nurses are the frontline of rural community healthcare which is why Farm Credit is offering three scholarships to nurses to receive training through the AgriSafe Nurse Scholar program.

The program consists of 18 hours of online, distance learning utilizing lectures, interactive question and answer sessions and group discussions. The course can be completed any time before November 13 and covers a number of topics.

Integration of ag health into a medical practice.
Special populations (youth, older adult, veterans, immigrant and migrant workers)
Zoonotic diseases

Chemical/pesticide exposure
Personal protective equipment
Skin disorders

One nurse each from western Arkansas, central Arkansas and eastern Arkansas will be awarded a full scholarship for the AgriSafe Nurse Scholar program.  It covers all costs with no additional expenses for the nurse or employer.  

Farm Credit proudly provides this resource to nurses serving Arkansas farmers and ranchers. Scholarship recipients will be selected by the Agrisafe Nurse Scholarship program. Interested nurses can find application instructions at ARFarmCredit.com. Program details are also at https://learning.agrisafe.org.

With $4 billion in assets, the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas support rural communities and agriculture across the state by financing farms, land, livestock, homes and more. 

Find branch locations at ARFarmCredit.com.

HHS AWARDS ARKANSAS $78 MILLION FOR EXPANDED CORONAVIRUS TESTING
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding $78 million to Arkansas to expand its testing capacity for COVID-19.

The funding is part of $11 billion from HHS to support nationwide testing for COVID-19 and the reopening of America. The investment will be used to develop, purchase, administer, process and analyze COVID-19 tests as well as contact tracing.

“Expanding our testing capability is necessary to combating the spread of COVID-19 and safely getting Arkansans back to work. These funds will be used to respond to this public health emergency and ensure individuals who have been in contact with infected patients are aware of their risk,” members said.

Funding was made available with the support of the Arkansas Congressional Delegation’s approval of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act that was signed into law last month.

FEMA ADVISORY – MAY 19, 2020
CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC: WHOLE-OF-AMERICA RESPONSE

On May 18, HHS announced $11 billion in funding to states, territories and tribes to support testing for COVID-19. This funding is part of the Administration’s efforts to ensure that states, territories, and tribes have the resources necessary to meet their testing goals as they begin to reopen.

The CDC will provide $10.2 billion to states, territories, and local jurisdictions through CDC’s existing Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases cooperative agreement.

The Indian Health Service will provide $750 million to IHS, tribal, and urban Indian Health programs to expand testing capacity and testing-related activities.

This funding from the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act will provide critical support to develop, purchase, administer, process and analyze COVID-19 tests, conduct surveillance, trace contacts and related activities.

As of May 18, FEMA, HHS, and the private sector combined have coordinated the delivery of or are currently shipping: 82.7 million N95 respirators, 133.7 million surgical masks, 11.6 million face shields, 24.4 million surgical gowns, and 989.4 million gloves.

FEMA has procured and delivered 5.2 million swabs and 3 million units of media so far in the month of May. In support of the White House Task Force’s testing initiative, FEMA is supporting the procurement of specimen collection supplies to supplement the supplies states and healthcare providers are procuring from the private market.

As of May 18, CDC, state, and local public health labs and other laboratories have tested more than 10.8 million samples.

As of May 18, the FDA has issued 103 individual emergency use authorizations (EAU) for test kit manufacturers and laboratories, including 12 antibody tests and 1 antigen test.

On May 15, President Trump announced Operation Warp Speed. The goal of this national program is to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Operation Warp Speed is a public-private partnership between components of HHS, the Department of Defense, private firms and other federal agencies. The program aims to have substantial quantities of a safe and effective vaccine available for Americans by January 2021.

May 18, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 18, 2020
"Bars across the state of Arkansas can resume operations beginning Tuesday, May 19th, though the announcement comes with a stipulation, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson at Monday's COVID-19 press conference update from Forrest City. The Governor reports that the bars permitted to open this week are those located inside restaurants, and the "free-standing" drinking establishments and nightclubs will be permitted to open back up next week, on May 26th.

As far as cases go, the total number of positive Coronavirus cases in Arkansas has now reached 4,813 with 1,068 of those considered active at this time. Out of the active cases, 378 are sourced from correctional facilities, 99 have been reported out of nursing homes, and 591 are from community spreading of the illness.

 There are no new counties reporting, since the addition of Little River County announcing it's first case on Sunday. Though 3,645 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Arkansas, the state's death toll has reached 100.  We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS LAUNCHES ARKANSAS 30 DAY FUND TO GIVE FORGIVABLE LOANS TO SMALL BUSINESSES AND SAVE ARKANSAS JOBS

Little Rock, AR – In an effort to save as many Arkansas jobs as possible during the COVID-19 crisis, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her husband, Bryan Sanders, today launched the non-profit Arkansas 30 Day Fund to provide forgivable loans to struggling Arkansas-based small businesses.

The funds disbursed to small businesses by the Arkansas 30 Day Fund are intended to provide immediate financial assistance to meet payroll, preserve healthcare coverage for employees, and save jobs. The application process is quick, easy, and free of red tape. The loans do not need to be repaid. If businesses who receive the Fund’s assistance do, at a later date, wish to “pay it forward” to another Arkansas small business in need of assistance, they may do so by directing those dollars back to the Fund. The Fund will then disburse that funding to another Arkansas business in need.

Arkansas businesses that qualify for assistance from the Fund are:

• Small businesses that employ three to 30 people;
• Based in Arkansas and have been operating for at least one year;
• Owned and operated by an Arkansas resident.

Arkansas 30 Day Fund will begin accepting applications for forgivable loans today at: https://www.Arkansas30DayFund.com

"My husband and I have been looking for ways to help people during this crisis and we are encouraged by the tremendous response we have received from Arkansans who want to partner with us in this effort. The Arkansas 30 Day Fund is nonpartisan, and we hope to work with people who may not agree with us on anything other than helping people in our community in need," said Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "It’s about Arkansans helping Arkansans, standing together in a time of crisis, and saving jobs."

According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, nearly half of small businesses don’t have enough cash to go more than a month, and more than half are waiting on government assistance.

"Our goal is to bridge that gap and help Arkansas small businesses save jobs now," Sanders said.

 

SAU FIELD PRACTICUM SENDS STUDENT INTERNS TO FOUR STATES
MAGNOLIA -- Whitney Gass, assistant professor of criminal justice at Southern Arkansas University, taught Field Practicum (internship) in the Spring Semester of 2020 in which students interned in four different states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Florida – a first for the program.

A total of 14 students were enrolled.

Kyle West, a senior Criminal Justice major from Lithia, Florida, interned with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Brandon, Florida.

Two other of Gass’ students, Andia Addy, a senior Criminal Justice major from Simms, Texas, and Avel Perez, a senior Criminal Justice major from De Queen, Arkansas, both interned with the Texarkana (Texas) Police Department.

Abby Morrow, a May 2020 graduate in Criminal Justice, interned with the David Wade Correctional Center, a medium-security prison in Homer, Louisiana.

Ten other students were dispersed throughout various agencies in Arkansas. Two of them, Reagan Pyron and Alexandria Smith, were placed with the Magnolia Police Department. Erin Brinkley, Kiarra Evans, and Kira Johnson interned with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, where they gained experience through shadowing and observation with Criminal Investigator Leroy Martin, dispatch, court and jail administration.

Jacob Brantley interned with the SAU Police Department, Kanira McCoy and Keelie Porter interned with the Arkansas Department of Community Correction in Union County and Quantiesha Coats and Autumn Faulkner earned their field experience hours with the Arkansas Department of Community Correction in Columbia County.

All students are senior Criminal Justice majors at SAU.

The Field Practicum course in the Criminal Justice program is offered every semester and designed to give students first-hand experience in one or two areas of their chosen field: institutional corrections, community corrections, courts, law enforcement, investigations, etc. Mrs. Gass discusses future plans and career goals with the students before reaching out to community contacts for possible placement.

“Our local agencies have been so accommodating and welcoming to our students,” she said. “There are some amazing agencies in this area and they work hard to make sure SAU’s students gain knowledge and experience during their internships.”

Students are required to “work” for a minimum of 60 hours. Many of these students do this while taking a full academic load and working another full- or part-time job. The class also requires a portfolio including a professional cover letter and resume. The portfolio also requires students to provide proof of such documents as Social Security card, birth certificate, and a driver’s license. All county, state, and federal agencies require these documents for the hiring process.

“I want our students to be prepared and have access to these documents so that agencies are waiting on our graduates,” said Mrs. Gass. “There is a journaling requirement for this course as well. Criminal justice professionals have a high burnout rate which means they leave the field after only a few short years. Professionals in this field deal with some heavy, sad, and disturbing issues. Having a positive outlet for their fears, frustrations, anxieties, and sadness can promote a healthy work-life balance.”

Field students are encouraged to practice self-care and recognize signs of burnout before they throw in the towel.

The final piece of the course is Arkansas’s Mandated Reporter Training where students “attend” an online course and are tested over their  knowledge of what to do in the instance of suspected or reported child abuse. Criminal Justice professionals by-in-large are mandated reporters and it is important that graduates know exactly what this means and entails before they are employed with agencies in the real world.

 
ARKANSAS GAME AND FISH FOUNDATION ANNOUNCED THE 2020 ARKANSAS OUTDOOR HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES AND ITS LEGACY AWARD
Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame inductees and its Legacy Award. These individuals will be recognized at the 2020 annual Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame banquet on Saturday, August 29 in Little Rock.

MAHONEY FAMILY - EL DORADO
Prominent in law and politics since 1896, the Mahony family is distinguished in conservation circles, as well. Noteworthy members were the late Joseph "Jodie" Mahony, the late Michael Mahony and Emon Mahony, the latter having served on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission from 2009-15, as well as on the Arkansas Nature Conservancy board of directors and the Arkansas Soil and Water Commission. Jodie Mahony served 36 years in the Arkansas Legislature and supported laws that protected the state's natural resources. Michael Mahony was president of Union County Wildlife and chairman of the AGFC.

HANK BROWNE, De Valls Bluff
Arkansas’s most famous furniture entrepreneur, Hank Browne’s accomplishments in the world of Outdoor Hall of Fame and conservation initiatives of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Foundation. As a member of The Nature Conservancy Arkansas’s Last Great Places Society along with his wife Cathy, Browne has championed conservation via financial support, land donations and gifts of time and talents to advance the Conservancy’s work across the state.

JERRELL & PENNY DODSON, Little Rock
Jerrell and Penny never imagined their small specialty store would become the largest in a five-state area, yet that's exactly what Archer's Advantage has become. The expansive inventory, paired with 85 years of combined expertise, has resulted in Archer's Advantage consistently ranking in the top 50 in sales for national brands such as Hoyt and Matthews. The Dodsons take great pride in outfitting generations of bowhunters and serving as a trusted advisor for archery enthusiasts.

MARK DAVIS, Mount Ida
Mark Davis has always carried the banner for Arkansas and its rich fishing heritage. After years as a fishing guide, he competed in his first Bassmaster tournament at age 23 and would go on to earn Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles three times (1995, 1998, 2001). In 1995, he became the first pro to win the Bassmaster Classic and Angler of the Year in the same calendar year. He has also been heavily involved in youth fishing activities, most recently leading the Mount Ida High School Fishing Club to numerous titles and contributing to the birth of the Arkansas Bassmaster High School Series. In 2019, he was inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC WHOLE-OF-AMERICA RESPONSe
Monday, May 18, 2020
“WE WANT TO TAKE SAFE AND APPROPRIATE MEASURES. THE PRESIDENT HAS LAID OUT VERY BALANCED CRITERIA AND APPROACHES THAT HE SUGGESTS STATES FOLLOW TO DO THAT. THAT'S THE PATH FORWARD THAT WE NEED TO TAKE.” – HHS SECRETARY AZAR

Topline Briefing Points and Messages

On May 16, the FDA announced the authorization of an at-home sample collection kit for COVID-19 diagnostic testing. The emergency use authorization was issued to Everlywell, Inc. for the Everlywell COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit.  The test kit is authorized to be used by individuals at home who have been screened using an online questionnaire that is reviewed by a health care provider. Results will be returned to the patient through Everlywell’s independent physician network and their online portal.

On May 15, President Trump announced Operation Warp Speed. The goal of this national program is to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Operation Warp Speed is a public-private partnership between components of HHS, the Department of Defense, private firms and other federal agencies. The program aims to have substantial quantities of a safe and effective vaccine available for Americans by January 2021.

As of May 17, FEMA, HHS, and the private sector combined have coordinated the delivery of or are currently shipping: 83.4 million N95 respirators, 133.7 million surgical masks, 11.5 million face shields, 24.4 million surgical gowns, and 989.4 million gloves.

FEMA has procured and delivered 4.7 million swabs and 2.8 million media so far in the month of May. In support of the White House Task Force’s testing initiative, FEMA is supporting the procurement of specimen collection supplies to supplement the supplies states and healthcare providers are procuring from the private market.

As of May 17, CDC, state, and local public health labs and other laboratories have tested more than 10.8 million samples.

As of May 14, the FDA has issued 101 individual emergency use authorizations (EAU) for test kit manufacturers and laboratories, including 12 antibody tests and 1 antigen test.

On May 11, President Trump announced additional efforts to ensure that every state, territory and tribe has the resources they need to meet the robust testing plans described in the President’s Guidelines for Opening up America Again and the Testing Blueprint unveiled by the President on April 27.

Learn more at fema.gov/coronavirus May 18, 2020 1 of 9

 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 16, 2020
As of Saturday afternoon, the number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas had climbed to 4,578. There were 65 patients hospitalized, and ten on a ventilator. The number of coronavirus cases considered to be active stood at 1,008. Of those 1,008 active cases, 370 are in correctional facilities, 101 are in nursing homes, and 537 are in the community. The death toll in the state due to COVID-19 stands at 98. The latest outbreak has occurred in the Randall Williams Unit state prison in Pine Bluff, where 75 cases have been reported since Friday. Arkansas Department of Corrections Director Dexter Payne says the facility has been placed on "lockdown.

Governor Asa Hutchinson announced in Saturdays press conference that a suspected security breach committed by an applicant using the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance website caused the entire system to be shut down on Friday night. Law enforcement officials were notified, along with the state's cyber-insurance carrier. Officials at the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services discovered that the website had exposed applicants' private information. A team worked over the weekend to get the system running again and to get people's unemployment benefits out the door this week. The Governor added that if there is any indication that someone's personal data was compromised, steps would be taken to notify the applicant. 

On Monday the 18th, the following industries may open for limited business under Phase One: Casinos, Indoor Entertainment Venues, and State Parks Cabins and Lodging Facilities. In Monday afternoon's statewide press conference, Governor Hutchinson will make an announcement regarding the current restrictions on Bars and Clubs. 

Secretary of the Department of Health Nate Smith warned Saturday that with these directives going away, it's more important than ever to practice social distancing, hand washing, and wearing face coverings.

Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas is at 4,578 as of Saturday afternoon. The total number of cases considered to be active is 1,008. The death toll currently stands at 98. Locally, in Ouachita County, there are ten cases and six recoveries. In Calhoun County, there are still no reported cases. In Union County, there are 107 cases, 66 recoveries, and four deaths. In Columbia County, there are 15 cases, 11 recoveries, and two deaths. In Nevada County, there are four cases and three recoveries. And in Clark County, there are 35 cases and 32 recoveries. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.
 

LOCAL HEALTH UNITS TO OFFER COVID-19 TESTING
Little Rock, Ark. – The Arkansas Department of Health’s Local Health Units across the state will offer COVID-19 testing beginning today.

Testing is encouraged for all individuals who believe they have had contact with or been exposed to a positive case as well as anyone who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath. Tests will also be offered to anyone with or without symptoms who lives in or has traveled to an area experiencing active transmission. 

Those seeking a test should confirm that the health unit is open and call ahead for an appointment so that staff can prepare and ensure safe spacing between patients. A list of health units is available at healthy.arkansas.gov/health-units.

Patients will be directed to self-collect specimens outside of the unit using a provided nasal swab and container. The specimens will then be sent to the state Public Health Laboratory. Results are typically made available within 48 to 72 hours, though it can take up to a week. Positive patients will be notified as soon as a result is available.

There is no out-of-pocket cost for the tests, but insurance may be billed for patients who have it.

 
 
 
 

May 15, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 15, 2020
On Monday, May 18th, an announcement by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will be made regarding a decision to open bars and nightclubs across the state. Once bars are given the green light to re-open, all retail business in Arkansas will have returned to "open" status following closures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic this Spring.

During the Friday COVID-19 Press Conference update, The Governor reported that today, May 15th is the first day lodging and cabins within the state parks system are available for recreational use across Arkansas again. Hutchinson reports that 71% of the reservations booked at state park lodging are currently held by in-state residents, and 29% are from those outside Arkansas at this time.

As far as cases go, the state has a goal of conducting 60,000 COVID-19 tests in the state throughout the month of May. Dr. Nathaniel Smith reports that as of May 15th, 29,389 coronavirus tests have have been performed in Arkansas. There are now 4,463 total COVID-19 cases documented in Arkansas, and 975 of those cases are considered active. There are 65 people hospitalized with the illness and 9 patients remain on a ventilator. The number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 in Arkansas is now 3,390 while the state's death count stands at 98.

Good news was announced by State Park and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Stacy Hurst, as she revealed that the state has received nearly $500,000 in funds that can be dispersed to nonprofit groups for staff support and needed resources. Hurst also says the state park lodging reservations for this month are not far off from numbers seen this time last year.

The Arkansas Arts Council website is online at https://www.arkansasarts.org/

Again, there are now 4,463 total COVID-19 cases documented in Arkansas, with 975 of those  considered active. There are 65 people hospitalized with the illness and 9 patients remain on a ventilator.The number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 in Arkansas is now 3,390 while the state's death count stands at 98.We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.\

ARKANSAS BLUE CROSS AWARDS $2.4 MILLION TO CPC+ CLINICS
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.
(May 14, 2020) – Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield once again is financially rewarding clinics participating in the Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) program (an initiative of the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation) for their creative efforts to improve clinical effectiveness.

CPC+ provides financial resources to encourage primary care clinics to test ideas that advance patient care, improve outcomes and reduce low-value care/practices.

For meeting performance goals,113 of 123 participating CPC+ clinics (representing 562 healthcare providers) will share in more than $2.4 million being awarded by Arkansas Blue Cross. Each clinic met or exceeded its 2019 CPC+ quality measure targets by demonstrating improvement in a number of different areas, including:
Reductions in hospital admission and readmission rates
Patient-satisfaction initiatives
Quality of care
Total cost of care

“We are encouraged to see CPC+ continuing to make such a positive impact on our state’s healthcare delivery system and for Arkansas Blue Cross members,” said Alicia Berkemeyer, senior vice president of Provider Network Services for Arkansas Blue Cross. “Primary care is the bedrock of our system, and we are gratified to see collaborative and provider-led innovation bolstering it throughout Arkansas.”

About CPC+

CPC+ is a unique public/private, multi-payer initiative designed to improve primary care in America. It features two staggered, concurrent five-year rounds, each limited to specific geographic regions. Round 1 began January 1, 2017, and will run through 2021. Round 2 began January 1, 2018, and will run through 2022. Practices were able to choose from two participation tracks when applying for CPC+. Both tracks focus on the following Comprehensive Primary Care functions:

Access and continuity
Care management
Comprehensiveness and coordination
Patient and caregiver engagement 
Planned care and population health

This partnership gives practices additional financial resources and flexibility to make investments, improve quality of care and reduce the number of unnecessary services their patients receive.

CPC+ provides practices with a robust learning system, as well as actionable data feedback to guide their decision-making. The care delivery redesign ensures practices have the infrastructure to deliver better care, resulting in a healthier patient population.

Included in the Arkansas CPC+ clinics receiving performance incentive awards from Arkansas Blue Cross:
Clinic Name                                                                                                    City
Arkadelphia Medical Clinic - Arkadelphia
Bray Family Medicine  - Arkadelphia
Ouachita Valley Family Clinic _ Camden
SAMA Healthcare Services, PA - El Dorado
Collom and Carney Clinic - Prescott
St. Mary’s Physician Services, LLC - Russellville
Southwest Family Practice Residency and Clinic - Texarkana

 

May 14, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 14, 2020
COVID-19 cases continue to rise across Arkansas as the total number of positive cases has reached 4,366. This information was provided by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson during the COVID-19 press conference update on Thursday afternoon.

Of those cases, 928 are considered active, and 3,340 are considered recovered from the coronavirus. There are currently 69 people hospitalized from the illness and 10 of those patients remain on ventilators. Out of the cases reported, 305 originated out of correctional facilities, 101 are sourced from nursing homes and 522 are cited as "community spread." The number of coronavirus deaths in the state has now reached 98.

As previously reported by Governor Hutchinson, testing is considered one of the most important ways to plan and prioritize for public safety. During the month of May, a goal has been established to conduct at least 60,000 COVID-19 tests across the state. The Governor has announced that more testing locations are being added around Arkansas in an effort to track the virus and limit the spread.

For the COVID-19 economic update, Governor Hutchinson tapped AEDC cabinet secretary Mike Preston to provide the public with a breakdown of the funds being dispersed to Arkansas residents who are seeking unemployment assistance during the pandemic. Preston also reported on the status of the state's trust fund, which he says is in good shape at this time.
Resources for Arkansas business owners, employees and any Arkansans affected by COVID-19 can be found online at arkansasedc.com

Again, the number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas has now reached 4,366. Of those cases, 928 are considered active, and 3,340 are in recovery status from the coronavirus. There are currently 69 people hospitalized from the illness, and 10 of those patients remain on ventilators. The number of coronavirus deaths in the state is 98. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned. 

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN ANNOUNCES DONATION OF 100,000 FACE MASKS FROM TAIWANSays: Taiwan is a 'beacon of freedom for East Asia' and 'should be allowed to participate in the World Health Organization'
LITTLE ROCK – Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin announced a donation of 100,000 face masks from the Taiwanese government. This donation will help increase the supply of personal protective equipment amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Lt. Governor Tim Griffin issued the following statement:

"On behalf of Arkansas, I thank Taiwan for its generosity in this time of crisis. This donation will provide our frontline workers with the equipment needed to help keep them and our communities safe and healthy. Taiwan is a key partner and ally of the United States and a beacon of freedom for East Asia. Taiwan's relationship with the United States is critically important, and it is more evident all the time that Taiwan should be allowed to participate in the World Health Organization (WHO) as an observer as it did for years previously. A report by Congress' U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission indicates that Taiwan's exclusion from the WHO during the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak led to critical delays and increased deaths due to COVID-19. The entire world would benefit from Taiwan's conscientious leadership."

 

THE HUB OF OUACHITA COUNTY COVID-19 GRANT APPLICATION FOR SOUTH ARKANSAS RESIDENTS
The HUB of Ouachita County has established this grant through the support of the Aerojet Rocketdyne Foundation and in partnership with Ouachita Valley Community Foundation. This grant is established to be a source of emergency relief for South Arkansas families who are facing challenges due to loss of employment, reduction of hours or loss of business due to COVID-19.  The grant amount will be determined by need, with the maximum amount granted up to $500.

Fill out the grant application and return to The Hub: (1) by mail at 1115 Fairview Road, Camden, AR 71701; (2) place in mail drop box located at The Hub - Christian Health Center in Cardinal Shopping Center; or (3) email to hub@ouachitacounty.org.  The application is also available online at www.hubofouachitacounty.org or The Hub of Ouachita County Facebook page. 
 

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB NEWS
The Camden Kiwanis Club Board has decided to start the weekly meetings back effective June 4th.  Currently, everyone must be 6 feet apart and masks are required. Obviously, this is subject to change and we will make the appropriate decisions if needed. Speakers at the June 4th meeting will be Betsy Thomson and Gary Steelman who will be talking about everything school related

The 7th Annual Searcy Harrell Memorial Golf Classic is set to take place on June 6th at the Camden Country Club. Format will be a 4-man Scramble with cash prizes given to the first-place team. Other prizes will be awarded to participating teams. Morning and afternoon flights are available.

Other contests will include Double or Nothing, Hit-The-Green, Closest to the Line and the opportunity to win a brand-new Ford vehicle with a Hole-In-One.


Entry fee is $400.00 per team which includes 18 holes of golf, cart fee and hamburger lunch.

For more information call  870-866-2769. Mail entry form and entry fee to Camden Kiwanis Club , P.O. Box 371, Camden, AR 71711.

If you know of someone that wants to be a hole sponsor or anyone that wants a team please let any Kiwanis Club member know.  They will be getting the new Ford Truck out on the golf course this week and Jim Dick Coleman will begin doing Facebook Live events soon! Remember that the Club will need additional volunteers at the golf tournament because they can't depend on the Key Club to be there due to it being after school is out.

All proceeds go toward local scholarships and Make-A-Wish Foundation.


ARKANSAS DRIVERS REMINDED TO USE IDRIVEARKANSAS.COM FOR HOLIDAY TRAVEL INFORMATION
LITTLE ROCK (5-13) - The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) reminds drivers to “know before you go” and visit IDriveArkansas.com before traveling during the holiday season.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend you stay home as much as possible during the Coronavirus pandemic, but if you choose to travel there are several things to consider before you go. Please visit the CDC’s webpage on Travel in the US for their official guidance. If you do decide to travel during the Memorial Day Holiday (May 22 – May 25), ARDOT wishes you and your family a safe trip.

Extensive highway improvements continue through the state. With those improvements come work zones. To aid in your holiday travel, ARDOT has been working hard to open as many lanes as possible. Still, travelers will likely face work zones and possible delays due to increased traffic volume.

Traffic will be controlled by traffic cones and signage. Drivers should exercise caution when approaching and traveling through all highway work zones. Additional travel information can be found at IDriveArkansas.com or ARDOT.gov. You can also follow us on Twitter @myARDOT.

Route

County

City

Mile Marker

Distance

Lanes Closed

Time

I-530

Jefferson

Pine Bluff

35-45

10 miles

One Lane Both Directions

24 hours

Hwy 67

White

Beebe

35-36

1 mile

Outside NB Lane

24 hours

Hwy 377

Searcy

Snowball

6-7

2 miles

Alternating One Lane

24 hours

Hwy 177

Baxter

Norfork Dam

2-3

1 mile

Alternating One Lane

24 hours

I-555

Craighead

Jonesboro

39-44

5 miles

One Lane Both Directions

24 hours

I-555

Poinsett/Crittenden

Marked Tree

0-13

13 miles

Alternating SB Lanes

24 hours

 

SAAC HOSTS CORKS AND CANVAS "LITTLE FIELDS OF LAVENDER" ON 3 DATES • MAY 26, MAY 27, MAY 28
It's time to register for the May virtual Zoom Corks & Canvas - Little Fields of Lavender Watercolor Workshop - hosted by artist Kelly Campbell! There will be three sessions to choose from - Tuesday, May 26 at 6pm or Wednesday, May 27 at 6pm or Thursday, May 28 at 6pm. Choose whichever date fits your schedule best!

All of the art supplies you need to create watercolor "Little Fields of Lavender" will be available for pickup at SAAC Monday thru Thursday 9am to 1pm beginning Monday, May 18. Instructor Kelly Campbell will even provide curbside pickup on request. The fee for this special Corks & Canvas is $30, and you get to keep the watercolor set and extra paper.

If you want to be a part of this very different Corks & Canvas, just go online at saac-arts.org to make a reservation. Each of the three sessions is limited to 10 participants.

"Adults looking for some interaction with other adults should seriously consider doing this," Kelly said. "Our April sessions were such a success - we want to give everyone a chance to do it again or for the first time. We had many of our ‘regulars' and some new faces as well!"

She said, "We will be working with watercolor again - a different set of paints and different paper. The ‘Little Fields of Lavender' measures 4" x 5 ½", and each supply packet contains enough paper to do several paintings.

"These little paintings will absolutely be eligible to hang in our ‘Under Quarantine: Art Created Under Unprecedented Circumstances' exhibit/competition this summer," she continued. "Anyone who has questions about that, or about ‘Kitchen Table Art: Art Created During School Closures' for students can email me, and I'll be more than happy to answer any and all questions."

For more information, please email Campbell at kelly@saac-arts.org. Visit SAAC's website at saac-arts.org to register for the workshop. The South Arkansas Arts Center is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.



BOOZMAN HELPS INTRODUCE BILL TO MAKE LOCAL MEDIA OUTLETS ELIGIBLE FOR CORONAVIRUS RELIEF
WASHINGTON—
As local newspapers and broadcasters continue to struggle with the financial impacts of the coronavirus crisis, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) has joined with colleagues to introduce legislation that will make these outlets eligible for relief from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

"Arkansans rely on the quality coverage we receive from our local newspapers, television affiliates and radio stations to remain informed throughout this crisis. Local newsrooms are reporting important details residents need that are not included in national coverage. At a time when we need this communication more than ever, these outlets are suffering from a dramatic reduction in advertising revenue leading to decisions to downsize, furlough workers or close. Ensuring the viability of local news outlets is critical to maintaining access to information," Boozman said.

Local newspapers and broadcasters have seen a sharp decrease in advertising revenue since the onset of the coronavirus crisis. In the last few months, local newspapers have lost as much as 50 percent of advertising revenue, and the National Association of Broadcasters found that some local broadcasters have reported losses of up to 90 percent. As a result, local news outlets find themselves in a precarious financial situation, putting thousands of jobs in jeopardy.

In an effort to stem the tide, Boozman signed on as an original cosponsor of the Local News and Emergency Information Act of 2020—authored by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)—which would allow local newspapers, radio and TV stations to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). An outlet would qualify as long as its individual physical location meets the separate size standard set by the Small Business Administration (SBA), which limits newspapers to fewer than 1,000 employees and caps gross receipts for broadcasters at less than $41.5 million.

The funding would have to be used to keep local reporters and those who support them on the job as they produce local news, information, content or emergency information. To that end, the SBA could require the newspaper, radio or TV station to demonstrate that the loan is necessary for this purpose. No portion of the loan could be paid or transferred to a parent company or used for other purposes.

This legislation follows on the heels of an effort Boozman joined urging Senate leadership to ensure that future legislation includes a fix to the SBA’s affiliation rule to make thousands of local newspapers, TV and radio stations around the country eligible for small business assistance under the PPP. 

 
 

Playlist

MAY 13, 2020

MAY CITY COUNCIL MEETING HELD AT THE CAMDEN BUSINESS INCUBATOR
The May 12, 2020 City Council Meeting was held at the Camden Business Incubator Building located at 625 Adams SE, Camden, AR 7170. Due to the state directives the Council Meeting was broadcast on KBEU 92.7. All City Alderman, Elected Officials & Staff were required to wear a mask and maintained a minimum of 6 feet in distance. Due to social distancing requirements was limited space for the public.  Space was provided for news outlets.  General public encouraged to listen to council meeting on radio. Comments by public may be were submitted by email.

Mayor Julian Lott called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm. Rev. Scott Knight, Pastor at Cullendale Assembly of God Church gave the invocation. It was followed by the pledge of Allegiance.

The Minutes and Financial Report of Regular Meeting held on March 10th were approved.

To satisfy the Audience Participation part of the meeting questions or remarks were sent to the City Clerk by  email. There was one email that was complimenting James Alford for a job well done.

The Mayor’s report included David Richardson, Camden Water Utilities Manager who presented Jason Holsclaw with Stephens Public Finance to give a short presentation on Camden Water Utilities’ refinancing of their 2010 and 2012 Bonds. By combining the two and refinancing the city will save some money. The Maturity date would remain the same. The Council was only being asked to look into the refinance. If the interest rate gets higher the city would not be tied into it. If rates remain the same a formal request would be made in the next Council meeting. A voice vote was taken to approve the concept moving forward. The motion passed.

The Mayor then gave his report. He spoke about re-opening businesses. He stressed the importance of following the Governor’s directives. He stated that the City of Camden Municipal Building will remain closed to the public. The Camden Police Department, Fire Department and Public works buildings will also remain closed to the General Public but continue to perform essential services throughout the city. The Camden Covid-19 Task Force has worked diligently to ensure that you get the most accurate information.

The Mayor then went on to talk about a meeting while he attended while he was still campaigning. Audio can be found above.

Old business included Ordinance No. 13-20, an ordinance authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract for security walls and doors for City Hall; waiving the requirements of competitive bidding; declaring an emergency; and for other purposes. This was the Second Reading of this Ordinance. This will move forward to the next meeting for a third reading so there can be visuals of exactly where the doors will be.

Resolution No. 15-20, a resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract with the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development (OPED) to provide certain economic development services for the City of Camden. The Counsel finally agreed to fund OPED with $100,000. Audio of the discussion is above.

There were a couple of new business items. The City is going to formulate a plan as to how to conduct business and meetings should anything like the current pandemic happens again.
 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 13, 2020
As of Wednesday afternoon, the number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas had grown to 4,236. That's an increase of 72 in the past 24 hours. There are 862 active cases. Of those active cases, 295 are in correctional facilities, 90 are in nursing homes, and 477 are in the community. There are currently 64 patients hospitalized, with 13 on a ventilator. The death toll now stands at 97. 

Governor Asa Hutchinson emphasized increased testing during Wednesday afternoon's press conference. The Governor has set a goal of 60,000 tests during the month of May. As of Tuesday the 12th, 23,949 COVID-19 tests had been administered. In the past 24 hours, 2,278 tests have been administered, with a 2.2% positivity rate. Governor Hutchinson stressed the importance of increased testing in the weeks ahead to help determine the direction of our future battle:"

Bo Ryall of the Arkansas Hospital Association backed the Governor by pledging the support of hospitals around the state in administering COVID-19 testing:"

Lashannon Spencer of the Arkansas Community Health Centers Association also pledged their assistance to the increased testing campaign. Spencer says that if you don't have health insurance, the community centers will test you for free:"
The Governor will make an announcement on May 18th regarding bars. On May 20th, the Governor plans to address summer camps and teen sports. 

Again, there are a total of 4,236 COVID-19 cases in Arkansas. 862 cases are considered active. The death toll due to the coronavirus in Arkansas is now up to 97. We'll continue to keep you updated. Stay tuned."

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: ANTIBODY TESTING MARKETED TO HAVE EXAGGERATED CAPABILITIES
Says, ‘take advantage of Arkansans during the pandemic by making unsubstantiated claims about COVID-19 related tests will be identified and prosecuted’ 
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas is gradually opening the door and life is slowly going back to normal, but Arkansans are looking for ways to protect their families as well as neighbors and friends while reconnecting. Antibody tests, or serology tests, are thought to be a useful resource to identify asymptomatic individuals, who have recovered from COVID-19 or who may have had COVID-19 and recovered, but were never tested. However, any antibody tests on the market claiming to accurately determine antibodies may be exaggerating the tests’ capabilities to diagnose COVID-19.

“Arkansans are being thoughtful as they reconnect with their loved ones, but are also considering the risks to those in the most vulnerable populations,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Those who are trying to take advantage of Arkansans during the pandemic by making unsubstantiated claims about COVID-19 related tests will be identified and prosecuted.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “serologic test results have limitations that make them less than ideal tools for diagnosing people who are sick. Depending on when someone was infected and the timing of the test, the test may not find antibodies in someone with a current COVID-19 infection.”

Attorney General Rutledge has identified tips for Arkansans to use when considering antibody testing:

  • Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose someone as currently sick with COVID-19; you should contact your health care provider if you suspect active COVID-19
  • Most health insurance pays for COVID-19 testing if a person has symptoms or has been exposed
  • Do not believe advertisements for vaccinations or medications to prevent or treat COVID-19 that are not recommended by the CDC or your health care provider
  • Tests should be administered by a health care professional – there are no approved or reliable take-at-home antibody tests
  • Do not disclose personal or financial information to an unknown person or on an unfamiliar website or social media because it could result in identity theft or fraud
  • Paying a lot of money does not make a test more accurate or keep you safe from COVID-19

For more information, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or oag@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

DELTA REGIONAL AUTHORITY LAUNCHES ONLINE COMMUNITY SURVEY
The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) has launched an online community survey to capture resident feedback about our region and how we want to guide economic development efforts over the next five (5) years. The survey is being conducted by project consultant VisionFirst Advisors, and we need your help!

During the course of the project, we are connecting the region’s strengths and initiatives into a cohesive direction that provides opportunities for all residents. For the initiative to be successful, it is important to hear from residents. The short survey poses questions on the region’s strengths and weaknesses, recruitment of industry, top goals for the region, how to retain young professionals and families, workforce and quality of life.

The survey, which should take less than ten minutes, will be open for several weeks and close on June 4, 2020. Take the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DRA.  Our goal is to have 1,000 surveys completed by June 4, 2020.

Would you also please take a few moments to share the survey with your friends and colleagues or share on your social media accounts? Did you know that most people respond to online surveys within 24 hours of seeing the message? Please share once a week to help us reach our goal of 500 responses.
 

SBA ISSUES NEW REGULATIONS FOR WOMEN-OWNED SMALL BUSINESS FEDERAL CONTRACTING PROGRAM  
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration today published Women-Owned Small Business  Federal Contracting program regulations that will provide a free, online certification and eligibility application process for women-owned small businesses and economically-disadvantaged women-owned small businesses. The timeline for implementation of changes to SBA’s WOSB program has been delayed to accommodate those affected by the current pandemic.  

Starting July 15, 2020, SBA will begin to implement changes consistent with the Small Business Act as amended in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. In addition to the certification requirement for firms seeking WOSB and EDWOSB set-aside contracts, the regulations detail certification options for applicants and require authorized third-party certifiers to notify applicants of their fees and the option to use SBA’s free online certification process.

Below are some important timelines for firms to keep in mind:

  • The current self-certification process will remain available for firms until October 15, 2020, in sba.gov;
  • Between now and July 15, 2020, WOSBs must download their documentation, currently housed in the WOSB Program Repository, from sba.gov;
  • On July 15, 2020, firms can begin submitting applications for initial processing; and
  • On October 15, 2020, SBA will begin issuing decisions on certification.

The regulations detail important changes to the certification process, including the following:

  • Allows participation from firms certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Center of Verification and Evaluations, provided they meet all eligibility requirements;
  • Confirms the continued participation of approved third-party certifiers; 
  • Eliminates the self-certification option from sba.gov, effective October 15, 2020; and
  • Adopts a $750,000 net worth standard when assessing economic disadvantage for individuals in the 8(a) Business Development Program (8(a) Program). Additionally, funds invested in official retirement accounts are excluded from the analysis of an economically-disadvantaged individual’s personal net worth in both the WOSB and 8(a) Programs. This makes the economic disadvantage threshold and analysis consistent for EDWOSBs and 8(a) Program participants.
  • The new WOSB Program regulations will make it easier and more efficient for contracting officers to set aside and make awards to firms certified as WOSBs and EDWOSBs and will better empower agencies to meet the 5% federal contracting goal for women-owned small businesses.

About the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Program
To learn more about how the SBA supports women entrepreneurs, visit www.sba.gov/wosb.

About the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov

 

RUTLEDGE FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST LITTLE ROCK ROOFING COMPANY
Says, ‘Five Arkansas consumers lost a total of almost $90,000 to Greenhagen for roofing and other home improvement work’

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced that she has filed a lawsuit against Chance and Samone Greenhagen and their company Greenhagen Exteriors, LLC for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA). Greenhagen required large deposits and upfront payments for roofing and other home improvement projects that they did not have the intent or ability to perform as agreed.
 

“Five Arkansas consumers lost a total of almost $90,000 to Greenhagen for roofing and other home improvement work for which they failed to complete or provide refunds,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I strongly advise Arkansans to contact my office any time a contractor fails to complete a project as agreed without providing a refund for all unearned payments.”
 

Consumers have also filed complaints with the Arkansas Contractor’s Licensing Board, which revoked Greenhagen’s contractor’s licenses and issued a cease and desist order.
 

Rutledge is now seeking restitution for harmed consumers, civil penalties, an injunction and other costs and fees incurred by the State of Arkansas in resolving this matter.
 

If you are a consumer who has been impacted by the actions of Greenhagen or any other contractor, Rutledge encourages you to contact the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982.

 
 

MAY 12, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 12, 2020
As of Tuesday afternoon, the number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas had increased to 4,164. That's an increase of 121 from Monday. 27 of those new cases came from the Forrest City area in Eastern Arkansas. The number of hospitalizations statewide is down to 59, with 12 of those patients on a ventilator. After a peak of some 1,420 active cases in the state a few weeks back, the number of active cases of the coronavirus is down now to 849. The death toll due to COVID-19 in the state now stands at 95. 

Governor Asa Hutchinson set a goal of 60,000 tests in the month of May. After 1,753 COVID-19 tests were administered on Monday, Governor Hutchinson plans to outline new plans on Wednesday as to how to get additional testing done. The Governor says that testing is important so that spikes of the coronavirus don't become outbreaks.

Governor Hutchinson set some new decision point dates on Tuesday. The Governor plans to make an announcement regarding bars and drinking establishments on Monday, May 18th. The Governor plans to address summer camps and team sports on Wednesday, May 20th. Governor Hutchinson also disclosed Tuesday that the state had received enough of a new drug called Remdesivir to treat fifty COVID-19 patients:"

Secretary of Health, Dr. Nate Smith, reminded Arkansans at Tuesday afternoon's press conference that it's important to come forward and be tested if you're showing coronavirus symptoms:"

Again, the number of COVID-19 cases climbed to 4,164 Tuesday afternoon, after a spike in the Forrest City area in eastern Arkansas. The number of active cases stands at 849. There are 59 patients hospitalized, with 12 of those patients on a ventilator. The death toll stands at 95. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.



THE ARKANSAS SMALL BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT CENTER  ANNOUNCES UPCOMING WEBINARS
Join us online for timely, relevant information your business can use during the COVID-19 pandemic. No cost to participate. Click the links to register.

COVID-19 & Workplace Protection
Tuesday, May 12

¡Calma! Continúe con su Negocio
Wednesday, May 13

Communication and Learning in a Virtual World: How Businesses Can Prepare
Wednesday, May 13

Trademark Basics: What Every Small Business Should Know Now, Not Later
Thursday, May 14

Build Your Website with WordPress (3-Part Series) with Central Arkansas Library System
Part 1 - Tuesday, May 19
Part 2 - Wednesday, May 20
Part 3 - Thursday, May 21

Suggest a Topic
We want to hear from you. To suggest a topic for us to add to our COVID-19 "Keep Calm and Small Business On" webinar series, please email Whitney Horton at wahorton@ualr.edu.

Missed a Webinar?
See our COVID-19 Webinars playlist on YouTube

Here to Help
Do you have questions about the resources available to your business? Call our Infoline at (800) 862-2040, or click the button to sign up for consulting, and one of our staff will contact you.
REQUEST ASSISTANCE

 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES NEW TEXT ALERT SYSTEM TO PROVIDE TIMELY COVID-19 UPDATES
NORTH LITTLE ROCK— Governor Asa Hutchinson has announced a new text alert system with the ability to provide timely COVID-19 alerts and other critical guidance directly from the Arkansas Division Emergency Management to Arkansas residents.

Arkansans can opt-in to the new system today by texting ‘COVID19ARK’ to 67283.

“This is a free service from the Division of Emergency Management and RAVE Mobile Safety that will enable Arkansans to receive COVID-19 alerts and other guidance,” said Governor Hutchinson. “Participation in Smart911 will provide first responders additional information they need to ensure your safety and wellbeing.”

Residents who have opted in for alerts will also receive instructions to sign up for Smart911, a free service that allows individuals and families to provide key context to 9-1-1 call takers and first responders.

Through the Smart911 app or smart911.com, residents can create a Safety Profile that contains critical information including pre-existing conditions and quarantine status.

As Arkansas manages the COVID-19 outbreak and a surge in 9-1-1 calls, the information in these Safety Profiles allows 9-1-1 operators to proactively identify and communicate with those at greatest risk while also providing first responders the context and foresight they need to protect themselves from exposure and arrive on the scene fully informed.

A Public Safety Announcement can be found here.
#COVID19Ark #InThisTogether #weARstrong

 

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE ISSUES IMPORTANT REMINDER TO ARKANSANS ACQUIRING LIVESTOCK FROM OUT OF STATE
Little Rock, AR -- The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is reminding Arkansans that they must ensure any livestock they purchase or receive from other states meets the State and Federal import requirements. The Department of Agriculture’s Livestock and Poultry Division can offer assistance to ensure the animals have the proper documentation to allow movement into Arkansas.

“We appreciate the efforts of Arkansans to help alleviate challenges that animal agricultural producers have encountered due to temporary closures of processing facilities in other states,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “Our staff is available to help answer questions about safety protocols and importation requirements that are in place to protect Arkansans and our state’s agriculture industry,” said Ward.

All animals brought into Arkansas must meet the importation requirements set by USDA and the State’s Health Requirements Governing the Entry of Livestock, Poultry, and Exotic Animals. For swine, USDA interstate commerce regulations call for Premises Identification Number Ear Tags for Slaughter Swine, and the state requires that swine that are not from a qualified-validated herd be tested for Brucellosis and Pseudorabies. A Certificate of Veterinarian Inspection is also required to make sure the animal is not showing signs of illness. These rules are in place for public safety and to prevent the spread of disease within the state.

“Brucellosis and Pseudorabies are highly communicable diseases that can spread quickly from animal to animal, and in the case of Brucellosis, to humans,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Randy Chick. “We are aware of individuals planning to purchase live animals, particularly swine, directly from out-of-state producers. These rules are in place to help the Department monitor and prevent diseases that can have devastating impacts on the Arkansas agriculture industry,” said Livestock and Poultry Director Patrick Fisk.

More information about animal importation requirements may be obtained from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture website at https://www.aad.arkansas.gov/Websites/aad/files/Content/5937242/Entry_Requirments_.pdf

If people are not planning to process the animals themselves, they should know that many meat processors in Arkansas are already booked for several months. Individuals planning to purchase an animal for processing should first check with local processing plants or prepare for other options such as arranging for holding the animal until it can be processed.

A list of Arkansas meat processors may be found on an interactive map at: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/inspection/mpi-directory

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation. Visit www.agriculture.arkansas.gov.

OZARKS HIGHLANDS RADIO AND STONE BANK TEAM UP TO PRESENT “CABIN FEVER 2020” VIRTUAL CONCERT ON THURSDAY, MAY 28, 7:30 P.M.
(Mountain View, Ark., MAY 11, 2020) “After the annual Arkansas Folk Festival was postponed and eventually cancelled, we decided we had to get creative and try to honor the music that has become synonymous with Mountain View,” said Kevin Compton, chairman of Stone Bank, which is based in the Stone County seat.

“We have a relationship with Ozark Highlands Radio, which is produced by the Ozark Folk Center and airs on over 130 public and community radio stations all across the country,” said Kirby Williams, Executive Vice President of Stone Bank. “We help sponsor their national broadcast and their weekly broadcast on KUAR, the Little Rock NPR affiliate,” said Williams. Ozark Highland Radio is a weekly one-hour program featuring musical performances, past and present, as well as segments on the cultural history and tradition of the greater Ozarks region.

So, the idea for “Cabin Fever 2020” was born.  Working with Daren Dortin, executive producer of the radio program, a handful of area performers were chosen to perform. The online concert is scheduled to stream online on Thursday, May 28, 7:30 p.m. at www.cabinfever.stonebank.com. You can also follow Stone Bank on Facebook for the concert and for updates leading up to the event.  The performance will also be archived on the Stone Bank YouTube Channel.

The program will feature performances from some of the Mountain View area’s finest musicians including, Grace Stormont, Love Holler, the Bow Tanglers and The Gravel Yard Bluegrass Band, Pam Setser, Ed Nicholson and Stan D’Aubin.

The evening will be hosted by Ozark Highland Radio’s on-air host Dave Smith who will emcee the evening. Also featured is Ozark Highlands Radio and Mountain View personality, Mark Jones, who has a regular segment on the weekly radio show.

“We are soliciting donations to the Committee of One Hundred for the Ozark Folk Center,” said Williams. The COOH serves to promote the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View and its efforts to preserve the folk culture of the Ozarks. “Just like other venues and parks, the Ozark Folk Center has had to curtail its season of scheduled concerts,” said Williams.  Donations may be made to by check to: Committee of 100, P O Box 2111, Mountain View AR 72560.

Performers Scheduled to Appear
Mark Jones
is an accomplished claw-hammer banjo player, storyteller and sound engineer and was there when it happened at the Ozark Folk Center in the early 70’s and 80’s. He comes from a family of talented musicians and carries on the signature “Jones Style” banjo playing he learned from his father, Grandpa Jones

Love Holler is an old-time string band that hails from Batesville, AR. Twin sisters Emma and Caroline Russell and their dad, Stacy, play old time, gospel and traditional country music.

The Bow Tanglers are an old-time fiddle duo based out of central Arkansas.
Everett and Emily Elam perform traditional Ozark fiddle music around the state and accompany tunes with historical anecdotes. Both Emily and Everett hold state championship titles and above all, love to share and teach music.

Grace Stormont is a vocalist and multi-instrumental performer who plays old time, folk, gospel and jazz music. She is one of the area’s young performers who has taken hold of the traditional music of this region and brought it to a new and diverse audience.

Gravel Yard Bluegrass Band formed unexpectedly three years ago in a gravel lot near the courthouse square in Mountain View, Arkansas, a small town near the Ozark National Forest in Stone County, Arkansas. They have quickly become a favorite in the region. 

Pam Setser grew up on the Ozark Folk Center State Park stage and started playing music with her parents when the park opened in the early 70’s. She is a multi-instrumentalist, proficient on guitar, mountain dulcimer and spoons and performs frequently with the Leatherwoods among other musicians in Stone County.

Ed Nicholson and Stan D’Aubin are premier pickers from Northwest Arkansas. Ed has played with numerous groups through the years and is one Arkansas’s finest guitarists. Stan is a world-class mandolin player who also plays in several groups.

In addition to Mountain View, Stone Bank has locations in Little Rock, Harrison, White Hall, DeWitt and Gillett. Ozark Highlands Radio is produced and recorded at the Ozark Folk Center State Park in Mountain View, Arkansas, with major funding provided by the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.  
 

COTTON SLAMS CHINESE RETRIBUTION AGAINST AUSTRALIA’S CALL FOR CORONAVIRUS INVESTIGATION
Washington, D.C.
— China has suspended beef imports from Australia’s largest meat processors after Australia called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus last month. Following the suspension, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the statement below:

“The Chinese Communist Party is waging economic warfare on our closest allies for daring to call for an investigation into the origins of the Wuhan virus. The CCP would rather cut off trade than allow a simple independent inquiry, a telling reaction. But the United States and our allies won’t yield to Beijing’s threats as we continue to demand answers from China on the origins of a virus it unleashed on the world.”
For more on the and other stories, visit www.yesradioworks.com/news

 

UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS PROFESSOR ARRESTED FOR WIRE FRAUD
Fayetteville, Arkansas – Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas David Clay Fowlkes, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Diane Upchurch of the FBI Little Rock Field Office, announced today that Simon Saw-Teong Ang, 63, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, was arrested on Friday, May 8, 2020 on charges related to Wire Fraud. The complaint and complaint affidavit were unsealed this evening after Ang’s initial appearance in court before The Honorable Timothy L. Brooks at the United States District Court in Fayetteville.

In the one-count complaint, Ang was charged with one count of Wire Fraud.  The complaint charges that Ang had close ties with the Chinese government and Chinese companies, and failed to disclose those ties when required to do so in order to receive grant money from NASA.  These materially false representations to NASA and the University of Arkansas resulted in numerous wires to be sent and received that facilitated Ang’s scheme to defraud.

If convicted, Ang faces a statutory maximum punishment of 20 years in prison. If convicted, Ang’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including Ang’s prior criminal record (if any), Ang’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violations. 

The FBI is investigating the case. Acting United States Attorney David Clay Fowlkes from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas and Trial Attorneys Michael Eaton and Ali Ahmad from the National Security Division are prosecuting the case.

A federal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offenses charged and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge.  The charges set forth in a complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

BUG EXPERTS CALL FEARS OF MURDER HORNETS OVERBLOWN
Insect experts say everyone should calm down about the big bug with the nickname “murder hornet” – unless they are a beekeeper or a honeybee.

The Asian giant hornets that were found recently in the state of Washington aren’t big killers of humans, although it has happened on very rare occasions. But the world’s largest hornets do decapitate entire hives of honeybees, and that crucial food pollinator is already in big trouble.

While its nickname exaggerates the human health threat, experts say this hornet is especially big – two inches long – so it does carry more and stronger toxin. Thus, it can be a nasty sting for humans.

Hornet, wasp, and bee stings kill on average 62 people a year in the United States. If anything is a murder insect, it would be a mosquito. Mosquitoes are responsible for millions of deaths worldwide annually from malaria and other diseases.

For bees and beekeepers, this could be yet another major problem, but it is not one yet. The number of U.S. honeybees has been dropping for years because of problems such as mites, diseases, pesticides, and loss of food. The “murder hornet” can pose a different problem for bees. If they get into a hive, they tear the heads off worker bees, and the hive pretty much dies. Yet even for bees, the invasive hornets are far down on the list of real threats.

Beekeepers in the state of Washington are taking the threat seriously, based on worst-case scenarios. No “murder hornets” have been reported in or near the state of Arkansas.
 

DELEGATION ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FOR LOW-INCOME ARKANSANS
WASHINGTON—
U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—announced the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded Arkansas over $8 million in coronavirus relief to assist low-income families with energy costs.

The Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment will receive $8,206,119 from HHS’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Congress appropriated these funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which became law with the support of the Arkansas delegation. The CARES Act provided $900 million in supplemental LIHEAP funding to help “prevent, prepare for, or respond to” home energy needs surrounding the national emergency created by the coronavirus.

“The CARES Act takes a comprehensive approach to help Arkansans struggling from the economic toll of this crisis. This funding will help keep families safe and healthy by assisting with energy costs during their time of need,” members said.
 

BOOZMAN JOINS CALL FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDING TO EXPAND TELEHEALTH SERVICES DURING PANDEMIC
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is among a group of lawmakers urging Congressional leaders to include $2 billion in the next coronavirus relief package to help health care providers expand telehealth services by improving their access to broadband.

Telehealth allows health care providers to treat patients safely without putting themselves or their patients at risk of contracting COVID-19 and has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, many providers – especially in rural and hard-to-reach communities – lack the resources to handle this increase in demand for telehealth services.

In a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Boozman and his colleagues call for $2 billion in additional funding to the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program.

“The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased the need to expand telehealth. It is imperative that Congress act to ensure our front-line responders have the tools they need to combat this deadly virus,” the senators wrote.

The RHC program is the only federal program that supports broadband deployment at urban and rural health care provider locations. These new funds would expand the RHC Program to support non-rural and mobile health care providers, eliminate administrative red tape slowing down the process of obtaining broadband connectivity and provide more resources to help providers increase their broadband capacity.

Boozman is a co-founder of the Senate Broadband Caucus and is a champion for additional investment to expand broadband in rural areas.

The letter was led by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). Along with Boozman, it was signed by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Angus King (I-ME).

The full text of the letter can be found below.

Dear Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, and Leader McCarthy:

We write to express our support for dedicated funding for broadband for health care providers in any future coronavirus relief package Congress considers. The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased the need to expand telehealth so that health care providers can treat patients safely, without putting themselves or their patients at risk. As a result, many health care providers are facing connectivity challenges in meeting this new demand for telehealth.  It is imperative that Congress act to ensure our front-line responders have the tools they need to combat this deadly virus.


The Rural Health Care (RHC) Program is the only federal program that supports broadband deployment at urban and rural health care provider locations to improve patient care and reduce health care costs. The program is comprised of two parts, the Telecommunications Program, which subsidizes the difference between urban and rural rates for telecommunications services, and the Health Care Connect Fund, which provides health care providers a 65% discount on their telecommunications and broadband costs.

Unfortunately, demand for the RHC Program has outpaced available funding over the last several years, and the COVID-19 pandemic impact will likely exacerbate this issue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that health care providers use telehealth to direct patients to the right level of care for their health care needs, to conduct initial screenings of patients who may be infected with COVID-19, and to ensure that patients have access to necessary care without potentially exposing themselves by entering a hospital or physician’s office. Congress’s actions to waive restrictions on the use of telehealth in Medicare during the coronavirus outbreak in the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act will also likely increase demands for telehealth and requests for support through the RHC Program.

Congress must do more for our health care providers so that they can meet telehealth needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why we are writing you to request that Congress provide $2 billion in additional support for the RHC Program in any future coronavirus response. This additional support would expand the reach of the RHC Program to enable health care providers at non-rural and mobile health care facilities to engage in telehealth, eliminate administrative red tape that slows down the ability of front-line providers to obtain broadband connectivity, and provide more resources to current health care providers in the RHC Program so they can increase their broadband capacity to effectively treat their patients.

The RHC Program has been a key aspect of increasing telehealth in the United States. In this time of crisis, it is imperative we do our part to ensure the safety and security of our health care providers and patients.  We urge you to include support in coronavirus legislation to ensure that Americans can access vital care when they need it in a way that protects their health and the health of those around them.  Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

MAY 11, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 11, 2020
Following the announcement of Murphy Oil dissolving their South Arkansas location to consolidate to a Houston Texas-based Headquarters last week, Governor Asa Hutchinson arranged for Monday's COVID-19 press conference to be held live from El Dorado.

The Governor spoke confidently about the state's ability to recover economically and prosper, despite the pandemic and the Oil company's announcement about pulling out of the state's Southern region. Hutchinson notes that more than $700 million dollars is available in the state unemployment reserve fund, which he calls an underlying strength that helps put Arkansas in a better position than other states.

The total number of positive Coronavirus cases in Arkansas as reported by Dr. Nathaniel Smith has now reached 4,043. Only 803 of those cases are considered active, as 3,149 people have recovered from the illness, and the death toll has now reached 94.  The number of people hospitalized from the Coronavirus currently stands at 61, with 11 of those patients on a ventilator.  Of the active cases, 278 are sourced from correctional facilities, 86 are from nursing homes, and 439 are considered community cases.

Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston spoke during the press conference to address the state's economic issues, and to provide financial updates. Preston says more than 100,000 unemployment claims are being processed in Arkansas this week. He also reminded freelancers and the self-employed where they can seek resources.

Again, the total number of positive Coronavirus cases in Arkansas has now reached 4,043. Only 803 of those cases are considered active, as 3,149 people have recovered from the illness, and the number of people hospitalized from Coronavirus currently stands at 61, with 11 patients on a ventilator. The state death toll has reached 94. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.
 

MAY CITY COUNCIL MEETING TO BE HELD AT THE CAMDEN BUSINESS INCUBATOR
The May 12, 2020 City Council Meeting will be held at the Camden Business Incubator Building located at 625 Adams SE, Camden, AR 71701
Due to the state directives the Council Meeting will be broadcasted on KBEU 92.7 beginning at 7:00pm.

All City Alderman, Elected Officials & Staff must wear a mask (if you do not have a mask, one will be provided) and maintain a minimum of 6ft in distance.

Due to social distancing requirements, there will be very limited space for the public.  Space will be provided for news outlets.  General public encouraged to listen to council meeting on radio. Comments by public may be submitted to email address: onecamdenar@gmail.com
 

ARKANSAS GROWN SCHOOL GARDEN OF THE YEAR CONTEST OPEN THROUGH SEPTEMBER 13
Little Rock, AR – School entries are being accepted for the seventh annual Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas. Applicants may be any Arkansas school, grades pre-K through 12, that had a school garden open during the 2019-2020 school year, or any school planning to start a garden in the 2020-2021 school year.

“School gardens have proven to be an effective way to help students develop healthy eating habits, while also learning about science, math, and agriculture, Arkansas’s largest industry,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “We value our partnership with Farm Credit and appreciate their generosity in providing the funds for the awards,” said Ward.

The contest runs through Sunday, September 13, 2020. Online entry forms and program requirements are available at http://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/aad-programs. Winners will be announced at the Farm to School Celebration in October.

“As a farmer-owned cooperative, we are excited to continue our support of teachers and projects that engage Arkansas students in food production and agricultural sustainability. Through these partnerships, we can ensure that the valuable role of Arkansas agriculture remains top-of-mind for the next generation,” said Farm Credit Midsouth President & CEO, James McJunkins, on behalf of the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas.

The 2020 contest has a new category, “Champion of Sustaining School Garden,” where schools who have previously won in a category can be awarded for their continued development and sustainability.

Applicants from public and private K-12 schools, early care facilities, and alternative learning environments are eligible to apply for the following categories:

  •        Best School Garden Start-up Proposal - $500
  •        Best Harvest Partnership Garden - $500
  •        Best Education Based Garden - $500
  •        Best Community Collaboration Garden - $500
  •        Overall School Garden Winner - $1000
  •        Champion of Sustaining School Garden - $1000

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation. Visit www.agriculture.arkansas.gov.

With $4 billion in assets, Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas support rural communities and agriculture across Arkansas with reliable, consistent credit and financial services.    
 

BOOZMAN URGES CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FOR CHARITABLE NONPROFITS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is among a group of lawmakers urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to include nonprofits, charities and houses of worship in the fourth-phase relief proposal for the coronavirus pandemic.

In a bipartisan letter led by Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Angus King (I-ME), Boozman and his colleagues ask Senate leadership to expand nonprofit organizations’ access to relief and support, increase unemployment insurance reimbursement for employees and strengthen incentives to encourage more charitable giving.

“Charitable nonprofits are significant employers ready to serve. The 12 million people working for America’s charities are the backbone of our communities: the food banks, shelters, domestic violence services, houses of worship, early care and education centers, after-school facilities, and more that are being called on to feed, house and care for people whose lives have been disrupted by sickness, closures, and job loss,” the senators wrote. “We will continue to rely on the experience, expertise and ingenuity of the sector during future recovery efforts. As we work to build on the CARES Act in the next relief package, we cannot overlook the needs of these community-based institutions and must ensure that charitable nonprofits are fully supported in their service on the front lines of responding to the COVID-19 crisis.”

Along with Boozman, the letter was signed by Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Martha McSally (R-AZ), John Hoeven (R-ND), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Tim Scott (R-SC), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Richard Burr (R-NC), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Steve Daines (R-MT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Jon Tester (D-MT).

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, Covenant House International, Ducks Unlimited, Girl Scouts of the USA, Girls Inc., Goodwill Industries International, Inc., Habitat for Humanity International, National Council of Nonprofits, United Way Worldwide, World Wildlife Fund, YMCA of the USA, Youth Advocate Program, YWCA USA and Boys and Girls Club of America are among the organizations that have offered support for this effort.

The full text of the letter can be found below.

Dear Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer:

Charitable nonprofits are significant employers ready to serve. The 12 million people working for America’s charities are the backbone of our communities: the food banks, shelters, domestic violence services, houses of worship, early care and education centers, after-school facilities, and more that are being called on to feed, house and care for people whose lives have been disrupted by sickness, closures, and job loss. Cities and states are relying on nonprofits to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic. We will continue to rely on the experience, expertise and ingenuity of the sector during future recovery efforts. As we work to build on the CARES Act in the next relief package, we cannot overlook the needs of these community-based institutions and must ensure that charitable nonprofits are fully supported in their service on the front lines of responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

Specifically, we urge you to include the following clarifications and provisions in the next relief package:

Expand Nonprofit Access to Relief and Support: Expand the eligibility for nonprofits to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program by modifying the current 500-employee cap or by other means. Adjust Economic Stabilization Fund or other mechanisms to implement programs to support nonprofit employers with between 500 and 10,000 employees. Provide clear guidance and maximum flexibility to private lenders to prioritize processing the applications of charitable nonprofits.

Increase Unemployment Insurance Reimbursement: Treat self-funded nonprofits fairly by increasing the federal unemployment insurance reimbursement for self-funded nonprofits to 100% of costs. As currently written Section 2103 of the CARES Act will subject nonprofits throughout the country to crippling payments to their state unemployment systems later this year, while other employers will likely experience little or no additional costs resulting from mass COVID-19-related layoffs. The impacts will be real. States will be greatly challenged to distinguish among employers in an already overburdened system due to the unprecedented surge in new applicants. Many nonprofits will be hit with a bill for reimbursement to states at a time when they will be in the highest demand for providing services. This could actually inhibit nonprofits’ ability to perform.

Strengthen Charitable Giving Incentives: Encourage donations to the work of charitable organizations in their communities by enabling taxpayers making donations on and after March 13 (date of national emergency declaration) and before July 16 to claim the deductions on their 2019 tax filings. This retroactive application should apply to itemized and above-the-line deductions during this critical period to encourage an influx of donations when these nonprofits need them most. Also, enhance the Above-the-Line Deduction in the CARES Act by increasing the $300/person cap and extending the effective date of the incentive. 

On behalf of the nonprofit charities in each of our districts providing critical services to our constituents, we appreciate your attention to this request and believe that the inclusion of these provisions will directly help charitable nonprofits respond to the fallout from this pandemic and will continue to serve our communities in the aftermath. We appreciate your consideration and attention to this request.

Sincerely,   

 

MAY IS FOSTER CARE AWARENESS MONTH
The Mission Continues…
Little Rock, AR— May 5, 2020 — Each May since 1988, National Foster Care Month has raised awareness of the needs of children and teens in foster care across Arkansas. When children cannot stay with their families due to crisis, neglect or abuse, they enter the foster care system needing safe homes to take them in and care for them. With approximately 4,400 children and youth currently in the foster care system in Arkansas and only 1,500 homes to care for them, there is an urgent need for foster and adoptive parents to provide a refuge or a home of permanence.

The CALL in Arkansas mobilizes the Church and recruits, trains and supports church members to become foster and adoptive parents. In 2019, more than 969 CALL foster homes served 3,685 children and youth. 

Are you feeling stressed because of the Covid-19 pandemic? Scared about the future? Anxious about your family? Missing your friends? Not sure who is in charge? Out of your normal routine? Stuck where you don’t want to be? Behaving your worst? Can’t think past today? Unfortunately, this is the life of a child in foster care.

Children and teens in foster care deserve to have a home where they feel safe and secure. The CALL is working through the crisis to provide stability and offer support. At a time when others have closed their doors to remain safe, foster families are opening their homes to children at their most vulnerable.  This month, The CALL is launching a campaign to highlight foster heroes in our local communities.

For more information or to feature a local foster family in your community, contact your local County Coordinator or the state office for The CALL. The state contact is:

Jill Bobo, Development Director
501-580-1214
jbobo@thecallinarkansas.org

Heroism doesn’t demand extraordinary circumstances. Instead, it can take place in our everyday lives. For more information about becoming a hero to a child in foster care, contact The CALL at 501-907-1048.

To learn more about The CALL, visit TheCALLinArkansas.org or Facebook.com/TheCALLinAR.
 

SAAC TO HOLD ONLINE SUMMER CAMPS FOR KIDS BEGINNING JUNE 1
Summer camps at South Arkansas Arts Center will continue this year, but in a different way than ever before! In response to the Arkansas Health Department's directive that day camps cannot operate as usual this year, we are excited to offer a series of fun, flexible, and totally free online camps for students of all skill levels. The first class begins June 1, so it is time to sign up now!

Many of SAAC's Arts Academy teachers will be available directly on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, through a series of virtual class videos that students can complete on their own schedule and at their own pace. Best of all, Virtual Summer Camps and bag of art supplies will be available FREE of charge to the entire community thanks to grant funding from the SHARE Foundation and the Union County Community Foundation, as well as corporate sponsorship by First Financial Bank.

Free art supply bags are available for the first 250 students who register, as well as a free SAAC t-shirt while supplies last. Registration is not required to access the lessons, just to receive the free bag of art supplies. Sign your student up by filling out the form on the SAAC website, or register over the phone at 870-862-5474. The SAAC teachers are all looking forward to fun summer of art with your kids!

"It's hard for us to imagine a summer without our wonderful campers filling the building every day," said SAAC executive director Laura Allen. "But we are so excited about the prospect of offering our students a virtual option that will be able to fit every family's schedule and budget. These tuition-free, virtual lessons will be available to any budding artist at any age!"

Beginning the week of June 1, a new set of free virtual lessons will be released each week. Videos will be available directly on our website, www.saac-arts.org, and through our Facebook page. Students can choose to complete the lessons day by day, week by week, or save them up to complete all at once in an art extravaganza. Students will be able to access visual art with Maria Villegas, Jorge Villegas, Mike Means, and Katie Harwell, as well as story telling and ballet with Stephanie Lowrey, Elizabeth Wood, and Cami Lowrey, and performing arts with Jacob George.

The SAAC teachers are all looking forward to fun summer of art with your kids! For more information on virtual summer camps, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website to sign your kids up for this fun way to experience art in a new way. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas

HHS AWARDS ARKANSAS $4.7 MILLION FOR EXPANDED CORONAVIRUS TESTING
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding federal funds to Arkansas health centers for expanded coronavirus testing. 

The grants—totaling $4,766,433—were awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to 12 HRSA-funded health care centers in Arkansas. The investment will be used to expand testing and allow for the purchase of personal protective equipment; training for staff; outreach, procurement and administration of tests; and laboratory services. This funding will also support notification of contacts of patients who test positive and the expansion of walk-up or drive-up testing capabilities.

“These health centers play a critical role in keeping Arkansans healthy. Providing additional resources to expand testing is key to identifying patients infected with this disease and preventing its spread in the community. These funds will help achieve the governor’s goal of conducting 60,000 coronavirus tests in the state during May,” members said.

This funding builds on a $10.5 million investment in Arkansas HRSA-funded facilities.

The following Arkansas health centers received funding from HRSA:

ARCARE

Augusta

$1,145,659

1st Choice Healthcare, Inc.

Corning

$387,229

Mid-Delta Health Systems Inc.

Clarendon

$135,739

Cabun Rural Health Service, Inc.

Hampton

$234,829

Lee County Cooperative Clinic

Marianna

$144,619

Boston Mountain Rural Health Center, Inc.

Marshall

$393,919

Healthy Connections Inc.

Mena

$292,819

Jefferson Comprehensive Care System Inc.

Pine Bluff

$230,089

Mainline Health Systems Inc.

Portland

$339,499

River Valley Primary Care Services

Ratcliff

$391,654

St. Francis House NWA, Inc.

Springdale

$693,199

East Arkansas Family Health Center, Inc.

West Memphis

$377,179


ARKANSAS DELEGATION APPLAUDS SWIFT APPROVAL OF DISASTER DECLARATION FOR CRAIGHEAD COUNTY
WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—announced that President Trump approved a major disaster declaration in Arkansas due to extensive damage as a result of a tornado and severe storms that struck Craighead County on March 28, 2020.  

“We are pleased with this quick response from the administration which will provide financial assistance to speed up recovery efforts in the wake of the devastating tornado and severe storms that hit Craighead County. President Trump’s swift action to approve the state’s request for a disaster declaration is appreciated given the economic toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has already taken on the state of Arkansas,” members said

The delegation recently sent a letter to the president in support of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s call for a disaster declaration.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s announcement of the approval of the emergency declaration can be found here.

May 08, 2020

CAMDEN CITY BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. by teleconference due to the COVID 19 Restrictions. The agenda is as follows.

CALL TO ORDER
INVOCATION – Rev. Scott Knight, Pastor - Cullendale Assembly of God Church, 3250 Casd Road, Camden, AR.  

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
1. Minutes of Regular Meeting March 10, 2020

ACCEPTANCE OF FINANCIAL REPORT
1. Financial Report for March & April 2020

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION
Questions or remarks should be sent to the City Clerk by 5:00p.m. on Tuesday May 12th. Send to: payroll.camden@cablelynx.com


MAYOR’S REPORT
1.   David Richardson, Camden Water Utilities Manager presents Jason Holsclaw with Stephens Public Finance to give a short presentation on Camden Water Utilities’ refinancing of their 2010 and 2012 Bonds savings on the Utility Money.

 

OLD BUSINESS
1. Ordinance No. 13-20, an ordinance authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract for security walls and doors for City Hall; waiving the requirements of competitive bidding; declaring an emergency; and for other purposes. (Second Reading)
2. Resolution No. 15-20, a resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract with the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development (OPED) to provide certain economic development services for the City of Camden.  
3. Resolution No. 16-20, a resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract with the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development (OPED) to provide certain economic development services for the  City of Camden.

NEW BUSINESS
1. Resolution No. 17-20, a resolution establishing meeting protocol for the City of Camden during times of National or Statewide Emergency
2.   Ordinance No. 14-20, an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 2-10 assessing a lien on certain property  located at 322 Barrett St. SW.

OTHER BUSINESS

ADJOURN

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE ISSUES IMPORTANT REMINDER TO ARKANSANS ACQUIRING LIVESTOCK FROM OUT OF STATE
Little Rock, AR -- The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is reminding Arkansans that they must ensure any livestock they purchase or receive from other states meets the State and Federal import requirements. The Department of Agriculture’s Livestock and Poultry Division can offer assistance to ensure the animals have the proper documentation to allow movement into Arkansas.

“We appreciate the efforts of Arkansans to help alleviate challenges that animal agricultural producers have encountered due to temporary closures of processing facilities in other states,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “Our staff is available to help answer questions about safety protocols and importation requirements that are in place to protect Arkansans and our state’s agriculture industry,” said Ward.

All animals brought into Arkansas must meet the importation requirements set by USDA and the State’s Health Requirements Governing the Entry of Livestock, Poultry, and Exotic Animals. For swine, USDA interstate commerce regulations call for Premises Identification Number Ear Tags for Slaughter Swine, and the state requires that swine that are not from a qualified-validated herd be tested for Brucellosis and Pseudorabies. A Certificate of Veterinarian Inspection is also required to make sure the animal is not showing signs of illness. These rules are in place for public safety and to prevent the spread of disease within the state.

“Brucellosis and Pseudorabies are highly communicable diseases that can spread quickly from animal to animal, and in the case of Brucellosis, to humans,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Randy Chick. “We are aware of individuals planning to purchase live animals, particularly swine, directly from out-of-state producers. These rules are in place to help the Department monitor and prevent diseases that can have devastating impacts on the Arkansas agriculture industry,” said Livestock and Poultry Director Patrick Fisk.

More information about animal importation requirements may be obtained from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture website at https://www.aad.arkansas.gov/Websites/aad/files/Content/5937242/Entry_Requirments_.pdf

If people are not planning to process the animals themselves, they should know that many meat processors in Arkansas are already booked for several months. Individuals planning to purchase an animal for processing should first check with local processing plants or prepare for other options such as arranging for holding the animal until it can be processed.

A list of Arkansas meat processors may be found on an interactive map at: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/inspection/mpi-directory

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation. Visit www.agriculture.arkansas.gov.

LAWRENCE COUNTY HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION UNDERWAY
MAY 7, 2020
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division have been requested to assist Lawrence County Sheriff’s Deputies in the investigation of an apparent homicide.

Earlier today (Thursday, May 7th) sheriff’s deputies arrived at 50 Lawrence County Road 2741 near Smithville where the body of a man had been discovered.
 
Additional information will be provided once next of kin can be located and notified of the death.

SAAC TO PRESENT SPRING STUDENT SHOWCASE ONLINE "PREMIER"
Please join the South Arkansas Arts Center as they present the Spring Student Showcase Online "Premier" brought to you by the art and music students at SAAC. Join SAAC as we virtually "walk the red carpet" to see the students' talents in action! Under normal circumstances, SAAC would be hosting friends and families of the students in house for recitals and art receptions. But while under the new restrictions for gatherings, SAAC has decided to present their accomplishments online this year so everyone can still enjoy seeing their kids perform and show off their art masterpieces.

The virtual festivities begin at 2:00 p.m. this Sunday, May 10. The show will take place on South Arkansas Arts Center's Facebook page. Please log on to see executive director Laura Allen's welcome at 2:00 p.m. and then stay to see the great things the kids have done during this spring's Arts Academy classes.

“Coming together at the end of the semester to applaud our students for all their hard work is one of our favorite traditions at SAAC,” said Allen. “We couldn’t let that opportunity pass, just because we can’t gather in the traditional format. I think that this year’s Student Showcase is truly one for the history books.”

For more information, please call SAAC weekdays from 10:00-2:00pm at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas. 

DOJ AWARDS ARKANSAS FUNDS TO SUPPORT CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE EFFORTS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—announced the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) awarded Arkansas nearly $7 million to respond to public safety challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Providing resources to safeguard law enforcement and public safety officers is critical to the health and the wellbeing of Arkansas. This funding will allow law enforcement agencies across the state to better protect frontline workers while continuing to provide valuable services to families in our communities,” members said.

The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration will receive $6,926,980 to protect and support law enforcement and public safety officers. The funding can be used to purchase a wide range of resources including personal protective equipment, gloves, masks and sanitizer, as well as fund overtime and training of officers and provide/supplement medical care of inmates.

The funds were made available by the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program which provides $850 million to assist states and local governments in preventing, preparing for and responding to the coronavirus. The funding was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which became law with the support of the Arkansas delegation.

COTTON, MANCHIN, CORNYN BILL ENSURES DANGER PAY FOR MARSHALS ABROAD
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced The Danger Pay for U.S. Marshals Act, a bill that makes U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) employees eligible for “danger pay” when serving abroad. A bipartisan companion bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Ben Cline (R-Virginia), Lou Correa (D-California), and Doug Collins (R-Georgia).

“U.S. Marshals face the same risks as their FBI or DEA counterparts when serving abroad, but they aren’t eligible for the same pay. Our bill would eliminate that discrepancy and ensure that USMS employees receive appropriate compensation for the dangers they face serving our nation,” said Cotton.

“Every day our U.S. Marshals put themselves in harm’s way to ensure our safety. Currently, U.S. Marshals are stationed in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Columbia, all posts that would be eligible if Marshals qualified for danger pay. The Danger Pay for U.S. Marshals Act will ensure that those Marshals who are putting themselves at risk to secure our safety are compensated for their efforts. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this commonsense legislation,” said Manchin.

“U.S. Marshals put themselves at risk every day in the pursuit of justice. This legislation would ensure those in the Marshals Service receive the pay they are entitled to while serving overseas, often under difficult or dangerous circumstances,” said Cornyn.

“We are consistently proud of the work performed by the U.S. Marshals Service every day to keep the American people safe. Yet these federal law enforcement officers fail to receive adequate pay for their work in some of the world’s most dangerous areas. FLEOA would like to thank Senator Tom Cotton and Senator Joe Manchin for seeing this inequity in federal law and agreeing with their colleagues in the House of Representatives on a fix. The Danger Pay for U.S. Marshals Act, now introduced in both the House and the Senate, will give Marshals the compensation they deserve to execute their mission,” said Federal Law Enforcement Organization Association President Larry Cosme.

Background: This bill is supported by the Federal Law Enforcement Organization Association (FLEOA) and the Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE).

May 07, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 07, 2020
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson held the first COVID-19 press conference in Texarkana on Thursday afternoon since the coronavirus pandemic began in Mid March.  As far as COVID-19 cases go, the total number of cases reported in Arkansas has now reached 3,665, and 710 of those cases reported are considered active. There are 70 people hospitalized with 14 of those patients on ventilators and no new counties reporting cases. 2,867 people are now considered recovered from the coronavirus in Arkansas and the state's death toll has reached 88.

Hutchinson commended local officials who provided briefings on the economic climate and status of the local healthcare situation in Southwest Arkansas. The Governor also acknowledged Texarkana Mayor Allen Brown and several others, including Senate Pro tempore elect, Jimmy Hickey, who he thanked for being apart of the delegation.

The Governor was complimentary of the efforts of Texarkana residents for their precautions against this virus.

Texarkana Mayor Allen Brown encouraged residents across the state to follow the directives in place and he commended the department of health, along with Governor Hutchinson, for their leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Again, 3,665 positive coronavirus cases have been reported in Arkansas, and 710 of those reported cases are considered active. There are 70 people hospitalized, with 14 of those patients on ventilators, and no new counties reporting cases. 2,867 people are now considered recovered from the coronavirus in Arkansas and the state's death toll has reached 88. We'll keep you updated, stay tuned. 

COVID- 19 POSITIVE SUPPORT GROUPS
The Northwest Arkansas Regional Crisis Stabilization Unit, located in Washington County, is offering a tele-health support group for Arkansas residents who have tested positive for the COVID 19 virus.  We want to offer support to these Arkansans in an anonymous, secure setting, while they remain in the safety of their home. Our hope is to allow a safe place for them to share their fears and anxiety, as well as, gain strength and encouragement from each other.  Support groups are one-hour sessions offered 5 days a week.

These meetings ARE a place to share with others who have received a positive test for COVID-19.  Participants will be encouraged to offer support to each other, share ideas for ways to cope with their feelings in a healthy and positive way.

These meetings ARE NOT medical advice, group therapy, or intended for any type of mental health diagnosis or treatment.  You may be referred or encouraged to seek counseling if appropriate, but this is not a treatment group.  Any identified needs for a higher level of intervention will be quickly addressed and referred to the appropriate place, such as the patient’s PCP.

Patients must call to register for support groups.  There is no charge for participation.

If you are a resident of one of the counties listed below, here is your registration information:

Please call 479-316-7100 between 8:30a and 4:30p Monday through Friday to speak with Amanda and register for the group.

This group is for residents in the following counties in Arkansas: Baxter, Benton, Boone, Calhoun, Carroll, Cleburne, Columbia, Conway, Dallas, Faulkner, Johnson, Madison, Marion, Nevada, Newton, Ouachita, Perry, Pope, Searcy, Stone, Union, Van Buren, Washinton and Yell.

BLUE & YOU FOUNDATION AWARDS THIRD ROUND OF RAPID-RESPONSE COVID-19 RELIEF GRANTS
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (May 7, 2020) – The Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas has awarded seven additional grants in its Rapid-Response COVID-19 Relief program, which now has funded $1.7 million in grants to organizations in Arkansas working to prevent the spread of coronavirus or helping communities deal with its effects.

New Rapid-Response COVID-19 Relief grants were awarded to:

  •       Conway Regional Health Foundation ($150,000) – to provide lifesaving treatment, protect the system's healthcare workers and minimize community risk by creating a 26-bed critical care unit with 24 isolation rooms installed with new air-filtration systems and cameras.
  •       Mercy Health Foundation, Fort Smith ($145,714) – to purchase two ventilators and lab equipment to provide fast and reliable testing, so patients with the virus in western Arkansas can receive the medical care they need.
  •       Drew Memorial Hospital, Monticello ($139,900) – to provide on-site rapid-response testing in southeast Arkansas, with a goal of producing results for attending physicians within 45 minutes.
  •        Centers for Youth and Families, Little Rock ($90,000) – to provide comprehensive behavioral health services to up to 300 uninsured or underinsured Arkansans who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are struggling with the pandemic’s economic consequences.
  •       City of Eureka Springs ($44,188) – to provide hand-sanitizing stations throughout Eureka Springs and in high-traffic public areas and equip frontline city workers, law enforcement personnel and emergency responders with no-touch, digital forehead thermometers.
  •       Madison County Medical Group, Huntsville ($38,153) – to increase COVID-19 testing and telemedicine patient visits in rural areas, especially among seniors, uninsured people and the Hispanic and Marshallese communities.
  •       Nevada County, Prescott ($7,988) – to purchase personal protective equipment for frontline law enforcement personnel who work in Nevada County and in the county’s jails.

Any 501(c)(3) public charity, public school, governmental agency (city, county, state), nonprofit hospital or church in Arkansas is eligible to apply. Grants are not made to individuals. Applications must be submitted online at BlueAndYouFoundationArkansas.org. Applicants may request a grant ranging from $5,000 to $150,000. The Foundation will review applications and make funding decisions weekly. Pending grant requests will be held for consideration until final decisions are made.

“We are seeing a diverse range in the applications for the Rapid-Response COVID-19 Relief grants and are working to address as many needs as possible,” said Patrick O’Sullivan, executive director of the Blue & You Foundation. “The one thing that ties them all together is that these communities want to do everything they can to protect their citizens, and we are doing what we can to help.”

“The communities of Arkansas have always been resilient, but we know these are difficult times,” said Curtis Barnett, Arkansas Blue Cross president and chief executive officer. “We will continue to support our neighbors and our state.

BILL RENAMES CHINESE EMBASSY STREET “LI WENLIANG PLAZA”
Washington, D.C.
— Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) introduced a bill to rename the street outside the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. “Li Wenliang Plaza.” The bill honors the late Dr. Li Wenliang, the Wuhan-based doctor who warned the world about the coronavirus before the Chinese Communist Party silenced him. Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.

“The Chinese Communist Party wants the world to forget Dr. Li Wenliang, who tried to warn his colleagues about the Wuhan virus and later succumbed to that very disease. We can ensure his name is never forgotten by placing it permanently outside the embassy of the regime responsible for his persecution and death,” said Cotton.

“Dr. Li’s professional ethics made him an enemy of the Chinese Communist Party and a hero to the Chinese people. Chairman Xi can try to claim Dr. Li as the Party’s own martyr, but the Chinese people know that it was Dr. Li’s selfless work and voice that the Party sought to silence. We can honor that work by renaming the street outside the Chinese Embassy after him. The street outside the embassy will draw a glaring contrast between the cruelty and lies of the Chinese Communist Party and the decency and compassion of the Chinese people,” said Sasse.

“The Chinese Communist Party may have forcefully silenced Dr. Li for informing the public about COVID-19, but Beijing’s totalitarian censorship cannot erase what the global community now knows. Renaming the street outside of the Chinese embassy ensures that Dr. Li will never be forgotten, will serve as a stark reminder to the Chinese government and Communist Party that the U.S. will stand with the oppressed and not with their oppressors,” said Rubio.

“Dr. Li took a great personal risk to tell the world about COVID-19 despite the looming threats of, and subsequent forced censorship by, the Chinese Communist Party. Even when he contracted the virus, Dr. Li continued his efforts to communicate his experience and what he knew about it. Dr. Li is a hero. In naming this street in his honor, we will show the Chinese government and the world that truth prevails and free speech is paramount to who we are as a nation. The American people are grateful for his sacrifice,” said Blackburn.

“The Chinese Government attempted to silence Dr. Li Wenliang who, at great personal risk, warned about the danger of Coronavirus. While the Chinese Communist Party caused the virus to be spread around the globe, resulting in death and economic devastation, brave medical professionals like Dr. Li spoke truth to the regime. I am honored to introduce this legislation to rename the street in front of the Chinese Embassy after Dr. Li. May this serve as a constant reminder to the world and to the Chinese Government that truth and freedom will prevail, that we will not forget the bravery of Dr. Li, and that the Chinese Communist Party will be held accountable for the devastating impact of their lies,” said Cheney.

cGOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 06, 2020
Coronavirus cases continue to rise in Arkansas as officials report the number of positive cases has now reached 3,568. This information was provided during Governor Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 update Wednesday, May 6th. Of the positive cases reported, only 1,374 are considered active, and 2,109 people have recovered. There are also currently 69 Arkansans hospitalized with the illness and the state's death toll due to COVID-19 has hit 85.

The capability of testing for COVID-19 will increase across the state as testing kits will be provided for Arkansas by The Center For Disease Control. Assistance was also announced for Arkansas oil and gas companies, as the Governor has issued an executive order that allows required fees to be waved due to the negative impact of COVID-19. 

Another update provided Wednesday includes the date for non-emergency dental procedures to commence. The date was originally set for May 18th, however that date has been revised to May 11th. Dr. Nathaniel Smith provided this information along with a breakdown of coronavirus cases by age groups for Arkansans, as Smith reports that the coronavirus is not something that is only a concern for people in older age groups. He also noted the different regions across the state that have high numbers of coronavirus cases reported. In the Southwest area, it's Texarkana documenting large numbers of COVID-19 reports.

Before opening up the floor for questions, The Governor called up Steuart Walton, appointed Economic Recovery Task Force leader to deliver an update on the group's progress and issue reminders for Arkansas business owners in terms of following COVID-19 precautions. Walton recognized that each individual business will have to adapt to fit their needs. 

Again, the number of coronavirus cases in Arkansas has reached 3,568. This information was Of the positive cases reported, 1,374 are considered active, and 2,109 people have recovered. There have also been 69 Arkansans hospitalized with the illness and the state's death toll has hit 85.  We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.
 

NOTICE: NEW ELIGIBILITY FOR ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOAN AND ADVANCE
In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories were able to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance is designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance will not have to be repaid. SBA will begin accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance applications on a limited basis only to provide relief to U.S. agricultural businesses.

The new eligibility is made possible as a result of the latest round of funds appropriated by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Agricultural businesses includes those businesses engaged in the production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural related industries (as defined by section 18(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 647(b)).

SBA is encouraging all eligible agricultural businesses with 500 or fewer employees wishing to apply to begin preparing their business financial information needed for their application.

At this time, only agricultural business applications will be accepted due to limitations in funding availability and the unprecedented submission of applications already received. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. For agricultural businesses that submitted an EIDL application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will process these applications without the need for re-applying.

Eligible agricultural businesses may apply for the Loan Advance here.

MORE PATRIOT MISSILES TO BE PRODUCED IN CAMDEN
by Talk Business & Politics staff
Lockheed Martin has received a $6.07 billion contract from the U.S. Army for the production of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) interceptors and associated equipment. The interceptors are made at Lockheed’s Camden plant.

The contract calls for the production and delivery of PAC-3 MSE interceptors, launcher modification kits, associated equipment and non-recurring efforts to support the United States and global customers. The interceptors are to be delivered across FY21, FY22 and FY23 contract years.

“This contract demonstrates our customer’s continued confidence in our ability to deliver unmatched Hit-to-Kill technology that defeats the ever-expanding global threats of today and tomorrow,” said Scott Arnold, vice president, Integrated Air & Missile Defense at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “PAC-3 MSE is one of the most capable multi-mission interceptors, enabling our customers to defend against advanced tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft.”

To meet customer demand and increase production capacity, Lockheed Martin is building an 85,000-square-foot expansion at the Camden, Ark., facility where PAC-3 MSE interceptors are assembled. The building is expected to be complete by fourth quarter 2021, with operations beginning in first quarter 2022.

Ten nations – the United States, Qatar, Japan, Romania, Poland, the United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Korea, Bahrain and Germany – have signed agreements to procure PAC-3 MSE interceptors. For additional information, visit our website.

Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 110,000 people worldwide.

NOTICE: NEW ELIGIBILITY FOR ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOAN AND ADVANCE
In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories were able to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance is designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance will not have to be repaid. SBA will begin accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance applications on a limited basis only to provide relief to U.S. agricultural businesses.

The new eligibility is made possible as a result of the latest round of funds appropriated by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Agricultural businesses includes those businesses engaged in the production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural related industries (as defined by section 18(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 647(b)).

SBA is encouraging all eligible agricultural businesses with 500 or fewer employees wishing to apply to begin preparing their business financial information needed for their application.

 At this time, only agricultural business applications will be accepted due to limitations in funding availability and the unprecedented submission of applications already received. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. For agricultural businesses that submitted an EIDL application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will process these applications without the need for re-applying.

Eligible agricultural businesses may apply for the Loan Advance here.

ROGERS PHYSICIAN PLEADS GUILTY TO DISTRIBUTION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE WITHOUT AN EFFECTIVE PRESCRIPTION
Fayetteville, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Dr. Robin Ann Cox, 64, of Greenwood Arkansas, plead guilty today to one count of Distribution of a Controlled Substance without an Effective Prescription.


According to the plea agreement, Dr.Cox was employed by the Arkansas Medical Clinic (AMC) in Rogers, Arkansas. Cox and the owner of AMC contacted the DEA by telephone to report that prescriptions from Cox' s previous employment had been fraudulently written and filled. Cox specifically identified a prescription for patient D.S. written on May 19, 2019 and filled on May 20, 2019, and a prescription for F. R. dated May 17, 2019 and filled on May 17, 2019. During the investigation into these prescriptions, the DEA discovered that Cox had written D.S. his/her prescription in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in the Western District of Arkansas, Fort Smith Division.

Agencies participating in the investigation are the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), DEA Diversion Little Rock, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS), the Springdale Police Department and the Rogers Police Department.  Special Assistant United States Attorney Anne Gardner is prosecuting the case for the United States.

TREASURER OF STATE DENNIS MILLIGAN RELEASES 3RD QUARTER EARNINGS REPORT
Receipts remained consistent during quarter, totaling $23.1 million
Little Rock, Ark. – The State Treasury earned $23.1 million during the third quarter of fiscal year 2020, which ended March 31, Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan told the State Board of Finance recently. That adds up to $69.3 million for the first three quarters of FY 2020.

“Fortunately, even with the market moving interest rates continuously downward since January of 2019, receipts for the third quarter stayed consistent,” Milligan said, adding that was in line with the previous two quarters of $22.6 million in the first quarter and $23.4 million in the second quarter.

The Federal Reserve cut interest rates down to near zero in March amid global concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, which has and will continue to affect the State Treasury’s receipted earnings.

“Long before the full impact of the COVID pandemic hit, the State Treasury was already seeing a decline in portfolio yields due to falling interest rates,” Milligan said. “The actions of the Federal Reserve in March only accelerated those declines. I mention this because the impact of the COVID pandemic has had and will continue to have a negative impact on the worldwide economy. But I also want to offer some encouragement.”

Interest rates have been this low before under Milligan’s administration.

DELEGATION ANNOUNCES $8 MILLION IN HUD FUNDING FOR ARKANSAS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for awarding $8,190,367 in Community Development Block Grant funding to Arkansas to support the prevention, preparation and response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This funding provides additional relief to the state and local governments as they respond to the increasing needs of communities during this pandemic. These resources will help better serve Arkansans in need,” members said.

The funding is part of a nationwide $5 billion disbursement in housing and economic development funds allocated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which became law with the support of the Arkansas delegation.

Last month HUD awarded Arkansas more than $28 million in CARES Act funding.


COTTON, COLLEAGUES URGE EXPANSION AND EXTENSION OF IMMIGRATION PROCLAMATION
Washington, D.C.
— Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) along with Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) today sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to extend and expand his April 22, 2020 Proclamation on immigration. They ask the President to suspend all new guest worker visas for sixty days, and to suspend certain categories of new guest worker visas for at least the next year, or until unemployment has returned to normal levels.

“While economic shutdowns in states and localities across the country have been necessary to reduce the spread of this pandemic, the results have been devastating for businesses and workers alike. As you know, more than 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment coverage just since mid-March, and approximately one-fifth of the American workforce is currently out of work. This is a stunning difference compared with the historically-low nationwide unemployment rate of just 3.5 percent in February this year. The United States admits more than one million nonimmigrant guest workers every year, and there is no reason to admit most such workers when our unemployment is so high,” the Senators write.

Specifically, the letter calls for:

  • Suspension of new guest worker visas for sixty days.
  • Suspension all nonimmigrant guest worker visas for the next sixty days, followed by a continued suspension of new nonimmigrant guest workers for one year or until national unemployment figures return to normal levels.
  • Suspension of the EB-5 immigrant visa program, effective immediately (EB-5) were exempt in the original EO.

The full text of the letter can be found below or by clicking here.

Dear President Trump:

We write today regarding employment-based immigration into the United States during our country’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, we write to urge you to suspend all new guest worker visas for sixty days, and to suspend certain categories of new guest worker visas for at least the next year, or until unemployment has returned to normal levels. These suspensions are critical to protecting American workers as our economy gets back on its feet.

While economic shutdowns in states and localities across the country have been necessary to reduce the spread of this pandemic, the results have been devastating for businesses and workers alike. As you know, more than 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment coverage just since mid-March, and approximately one-fifth of the American workforce is currently out of work. This is a stunning difference compared with the historically-low nationwide unemployment rate of just 3.5 percent in February this year. The United States admits more than one million nonimmigrant guest workers every year, and there is no reason to admit most such workers when our unemployment is so high.

Many businesses have had no choice but to lay off their employees or shutter altogether, and it is unclear when those businesses that survived will be able to rehire their lost employees. Given the extreme lack of available jobs for American job-seekers as portions of our economy begin to reopen, it defies common sense to admit additional foreign guest workers to compete for such limited employment. Your Presidential Proclamation on April 22, 2020, suspending most immigrant visas for sixty days, is a good step in the right direction. However, our guest worker programs—which were outside the scope of that order—remain a serious threat to the U.S. labor market’s recovery.

Of course, we think all Americans share the hope that our economic recovery will be swift, with Americans returning to work in massive numbers as soon as it is safe to do so. Unfortunately, it will likely take some time for most businesses to begin generating enough revenue to return to pre-pandemic levels. That is why, to protect unemployed Americans in the early stages of economic recovery, we urge you to suspend all nonimmigrant guest worker visas for the next sixty days. Exceptions to this suspension should be rare, limited to time-sensitive industries such as agriculture, and issued only on a case-by-case basis when the employer can demonstrate that they have been unable to find Americans to take the jobs.

After sixty days, we urge you to continue to suspend new nonimmigrant guest workers for one year or until our national unemployment figures return to normal levels, whichever comes first. That suspension should, at a minimum, include H-2B visas (nonagricultural seasonal workers), H-1B visas (specialty occupation workers), and the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program (extension of foreign student visas after graduation). We also urge you to suspend the EB-5 immigrant visa program, effective immediately.

There are millions of high school and college students who, if not for the coronavirus pandemic, would be walking across a graduation stage in front of their families and friends over the next few weeks. Instead of celebrating their hard work, most will be receiving their diplomas in the mail while worrying about whether they will be able to find a job in this market. For many high school graduates and college students, they will spend the next few weeks at home making tough decisions about delaying or foregoing college this fall due to their limited family resources. There is no reason why these young people, especially, should not have access to seasonal, nonagricultural work such as summer resort employment or landscaping before those positions are given to imported foreign labor under the H-2B program.

Likewise, there is no reason why unemployed Americans and recent college graduates should have to compete in such a limited job market against an influx of additional H-1B workers, most of whom work in business, technology, or STEM fields. Temporarily suspending the issuance of new H-1B visas would also protect the hundreds of thousands of H-1B workers and their families already working in the United States—workers who could otherwise be subject to deportation if they are laid off for more than 60 days. Of course, appropriate exceptions could also be crafted to the H-1B program suspension to allow for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who wish to come to the United States to assist in combating the coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, the United States ought to suspend its Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which allows foreign students in the United States to extend their stay in the United States after graduation for 1-3 years to get “experience in the field” by taking jobs here in the United States. In 2019, more than 223,000 former foreign students had their OPT applications approved or extended. While the merits of such a program are subject to debate, there is certainly no reason to allow foreign students to stay for three additional years just to take jobs that would otherwise go to unemployed Americans as our economy recovers.

Finally, in regards to your Presidential Proclamation issued on April 22, 2020, we write to urge you to remove the exemption for the EB-5 program, at least until real reforms are adopted. The EB-5 program has long been plagued by scandal and fraud, and has been criticized as effectively functioning as a pay-for-citizenship scheme in many cases. There is no reason that the EB-5 program should receive preferential treatment as opposed to other green card programs for employment-based immigrants.

The coronavirus pandemic has wrought terrible damage on our country, and we will likely continue to experience the economic effects of social distancing and shutdown measures for years to come. We applaud your work to protect public health and limit the spread of the virus in the United States, and to find ways to reopen our economy safely. As we work toward recovery, we urge you to keep the American worker in mind and limit the importation of unnecessary guest workers while American families and businesses get back on their feet.

 
 

May 06, 2020

SAU SYSTEM MAKES PLANS FOR STUDENTS TO RETURN FOR FALL 2020
MAGNOLIA -- The campuses of the Southern Arkansas University System (SAU in Magnolia and SAU Tech in Camden) are working tirelessly taking precautions and planning for its campuses to re-open for the fall semester. Because the health and safety of students, faculty and staff remains our top priority, the Risk Management Task Force is working diligently to develop protocols to ensure the protection of our campus community. 

These protocols will consider classroom size, class structure, safety in residence halls, enhanced cleaning schedules and protective methods for monitoring and maintaining the collective and individual health of our campus family. The Task Force will continue to monitor the state and CDC’s social distancing requirements and COVID-19 conditions and will provide further plans regarding the re-opening of campus as the summer progresses.

As the System campuses plan to continue with on-campus instruction in the fall, students should prepare accordingly. Students are encouraged to file their FASFA and complete their housing application and room selection, as well as meet with their advisors to secure their fall schedule if they have not already done so. 

Incoming SAU Freshmen should register for Becoming a Mulerider (BAM) here: https://web.saumag.edu/orientation/bam/registration/  Students who have registered for BAM already should have received an email regarding the shift to virtual BAM sessions. Students are encouraged to continue to monitor their SAU student email very closely as many vital announcements are being sent through this method.

Incoming SAU Tech Freshmen should register for Student Orientation and Registration (SOAR) here: https://www.sautech.edu/student-orientation-and-registration-soar/. Students who have registered for SOAR already will be contacted by email regarding the shift to virtual SOAR sessions.  Students are encouraged to continue to monitor their SAU Tech and personal email accounts very closely as this is the formal method of communication between the college and students.

The SAU System campuses continue to accept applications for the summer and fall semesters. As a reminder, ACT scores are waived for incoming freshmen, as are graduate admissions test score requirements, such as the GRE and GMAT for both the summer and fall sessions. Anyone interested in becoming a student at SAU can visit https://web.saumag.edu/admissions/apply/ to begin their application process. SAU Tech is an open enrollment institution with no minimum entrance exam scores required. Anyone interested in becoming a SAU Tech Rocket can visit https://www.sautech.edu/get-started/ or text 870-390-0368.

WOODRUFF COUNTY SHERIFF: MISSING PERSON ADVISORY
MAY 5, 2020
The Woodruff County Sheriff’s Department has requested the assistance of the Arkansas State Police in locating a missing person.
 
Karen Jean Dunn, 58, of the Gregory community in Woodruff County was last seen about 10 PM on Friday, May 1st at 38 Woodruff County Road 717.
 
Dunn is described as a white female with red/blonde curly hair, blue eyes, a fair complexion, standing 5-feet, 4-inches tall and weighing 150 pounds.  She may be driving a 2012 Nissan Altima (unknown color), displaying a Mississippi license plate, YLA 2481.
 
Anyone with information about Dunn or her whereabouts should contact the Woodruff County Sheriff’s Department by calling (870) 347-2583.

BOOZMAN PROVISIONS INCLUDED IN BIPARTISAN WATER INFRASTRUCTURE LEGISLATION
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, applauded committee passage of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020. This bipartisan legislation includes Boozman-authored provisions to strengthen the nation’s water resources.

“Our nation’s waterways are critical to transportation, job creation and promoting commerce. Investing in water resources is crucial to supporting the needs of the agricultural industry, providing protection from floods and increasing access to clean drinking water in communities across Arkansas. I’m pleased policies to ensure our water infrastructure continues to meet the demands of Arkansans have been included in this bill,” Boozman said. The bill includes a number of provisions authored by Boozman to strengthen waterway infrastructure:

Assistance for McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River and Ouachita-Black River Navigation Projects
This language requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to provide assistance to non-federal stakeholders associated with the deepening of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River navigation channel to a minimum depth of 12 feet. It also requires the Corps to provide assistance to stakeholders by adding water supply as a purpose for the Ouachita-Black River navigation project in Arkansas and Louisiana.

Credit or Reimbursement for Materials
Boozman’s measures allows a non-federal entity that contributes materials or services to repair, restore, replace or maintain a water resources project to be eligible for reimbursement for the value of the materials and services. This provision will allow non-federal private or public entities to be eligible for credit or reimbursement, making it possible for a stakeholder to provide materials or money to get a project done more quickly instead of waiting on the federal government to fund important infrastructure projects in Arkansas. While it is not guaranteed that the entity will receive credit or reimbursement, it does give them the opportunity to apply to the Corps to get their money back.

Emergency Contracting
This language allows the Corps to maximize use of “tradeoff procedures” in competitive acquisitions while carrying out work with states in an area under a disaster declaration.  When responding to emergencies, time is always a critical factor. For example, if Arkansas is dealing with a major flood that shuts down its rivers, it will need to work quickly to dredge the river to ensure the system gets up and running so commerce does not slow down. This provision will allow Arkansas, in conjunction with the Corps, to select the dredging company they believe will get the job done in the most expedient and efficient manner and will not obligate them to choose the cheapest company available.

Improve Levee Safety
Boozman’s provision updates the levee safety evaluation process by requiring the Corps to provide solutions and the associated costs to fix existing deficiencies for levees that fail to meet the highest rating standard. When identifying deficiencies and describing remedies, the Corps is required to consult with relevant non-federal interests and provide them with an opportunity to comment. This will provide a much-needed road map for deficient and minimally acceptable levee systems in Arkansas to improve safety and raise their classification with the Corps.

Permits Studies of Water Resources Development Projects by Non-Federal Entities
This language would allow a non-federal entity to conduct a feasibility study on modifications or improvements to a project constructed by the Corps. The Corps is required to issue guidelines for feasibility studies of water resources development projects conducted by non-federal interests to provide sufficient information for the formulation of the studies, including processes and procedures related to reviews and assistance. This provision would help stakeholders in future Corps projects in Arkansas complete their own feasibility studies and submit them for review. This would mean non-federal stakeholders would not be forced to wait for the federal government. This allows the non-federal stakeholder to complete their study more quickly, saving valuable time and money.

Conforming Construction Cost-Sharing for Inland Waterway Transportation
Boozman’s provision adjusts the cost-share for construction or major rehabilitation of an inland waterways navigation project to 65 percent from the general fund of the Treasury and 35 percent from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF). The change in cost-share applies to projects authorized on or after the date of enactment of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 and for which the construction or major rehabilitation has not been initiated or completed by the date of enactment of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020. If constrained to a 50-50 cost share, many of the IWTF projects will not even begin construction in the next 20 years. Shifting the cost share for all IWTF projects to a 65-35 ratio could enable the currently authorized Arkansas projects to be completed more quickly.  

Reauthorizes the Clean Water State Revolving Funds (CWSRF)
CWSRF provides communities low-cost financing for water infrastructure projects. This provision amends the Clean Water Act to reauthorize the program and increase its authorization to $3 billion over three years. In Fiscal Year 2020, Arkansas was allotted $10.5 million for the program.

The committee also approved the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020, legislation that creates, updates and improves Environmental Protection Agency programs associated with drinking water infrastructure under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

May 05, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 05, 2020
COVID-19 cases are still on the rise in Arkansas as Governor Asa Hutchinson reported the state's number of positive cases has reached 3,496, as of Tuesday afternoon. However, only 1,364 of those are considered active. There are currently 89 people hospitalized with the illness and 16 of those patients are on ventilators. The state's death toll has reached 83, and 2,050 people are reported to have recovered from the coronavirus in Arkansas.

Another round of restrictions was lifted during Tuesday's press conference as the Governor announced the ban on visitors traveling in from out of state hot spot areas will be removed. Governor Hutchinson says the goal of lifting the non-hot spot travel barriers is to allow the hotel and lodging industry to accommodate visitors from neighboring states.

From an economic standpoint, the Governor reported that the monthly Arkansas revenue report has been revised to reflect the financial downfalls brought on by COVID-19. Governor Hutchinson says the revised forecast actually beats the projection. Based on the information provided, the Arkansas economy is reportedly doing well in comparison to other states.

Before opening the floor for questions, The Governor tagged Arkansas Parks, Heritage and Tourism cabinet Secretary Stacy Hurst who emphasized the protocols that will be in place for the hotel and lodging industry to follow now that many out of state travelers will begin returning to the natural state for recreation. Hurst says the state parks lodging approach will also change given the Governor's new directive.

Again, the number of positive coronavirus cases in Arkansas has reached 3,496. However, only 1,364 of those are considered active. There are currently 89 people hospitalized with the illness, and 16 of those patients are on ventilators. The state's death toll has reached 83 and 2,050 people are reported to have recovered from the coronavirus in Arkansas. We'll continue to keep you updated. Stay tuned.

MESSAGE TO CFHS 2020 SENIORS
Camden Fairview High School is asking all Class of 2020 Seniors to forward any scholarship you have received to Senior Counselor Tavitha Wooten by emailing twoten@cfsd.k12.ar.us or text 870-390-6336 or email Career Coach Patricia Burks at pburks@sautech.edu by Friday, May 8th. Also, note where it send your final transcript. Contact the school in reference to any fines (books, uniforms, etc) you may have.

PPE VENDOR LISTING
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission has provided a list of companies that have self-identified as providers of PPE. Neither AEDC nor ADEM are recommending any of these as preferred vendors. They have simply submitted this info and it has been compiled and being shared for your convenience.

AEDC will update this list as the become aware of new vendors. If there are businesses in your area that supply PPE and could be included, please contact Steve Sparks at AEDC

Download the PPE List

SMALL BUSINESSES FINALLY RECEIVING FINANCIAL HELP, 61% RECEIVED FUNDS FROM PPP LOAN 
Other concerns include getting customers back, increased liability
LITTLE ROCK (May 5, 2020) – The NFIB Research Center released a survey today on the small business loan programs. Small business owners were asked about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs. The PPP is very popular among small businesses, with 77% of owners reporting they have successfully submitted an application. The full survey is available here.


“After the second round of funding, many more small businesses were able to apply and receive funding from these federal loan programs,” said Holly Wade, NFIB Director of Research & Policy Analysis. “Now, business owners need guidance on how they can spend these funds in order for them to be forgiven.” 

State-specific data is unavailable, but NFIB State Director Sylvester Smith said, “Our members look forward to reopening, but they understand that comes with its own set of challenges.” According to the survey, small business owners nationwide are concerned about getting customers back, increased liability, and stocking up on supplies such as hand sanitizer and disinfectant. 

Key Findings of the survey include: 

The majority of small businesses have applied for a PPP loan. 

   • About 84% of applications were submitted before April 17, when the program was suspended for funding, and 16% of applications were submitted after April 17. 
   • Half of applicants submitted their application through a small or local bank, 18% submitted through a medium-size bank, 14% submitted through a large bank, and 4% through a financial technology (FinTech) lender. 

Over half of owners have received their PPP loan. 

   • Forty percent of applicants are still waiting, but just under half of those waiting (45%) have received notice that their loan is approved. 
   • Just over half (55%) of applicants who have not received a loan are still waiting to hear from their financial institution about their loan status.  

Under half of respondents applied for an EIDL. 

   • About 40% of respondents submitted a loan application for an EIDL and 60% of them applied before April 1. 
   • The vast majority (75%) of EIDL applicants also requested the EIDL Emergency Grant. 

Owners are most concerned with getting customers back to their business. 

   • Virtually all small business owners are, to some degree, concerned about increases in liability claims with 38% very concerned about increased liability when re-opening their business. 


About NFIB
For more than 75 years, NFIB has been the voice of small business, advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven. Since our founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses and remains so today. For more information, please visit www.NFIB.com.

USDA OUACHITA COUNTY COMMODITIES DISTRIBUTION AND EMERGENCY FOOD BOX
The USDA Ouachita County Commodities Distribution will be Tuesday, May 12th and Wednesday, May 13th. Distribution begins at 9 am at the Cullendale First Baptist Church located at 1850 Cash Road in Camden.

Food items may include green beans, dry navy beans, beef chili, orange juice, peaches, peanut butter, pistachio nuts, raisins, rice and vegetable soup. All participants must show ID. A photo ID is preferred.

The Emergency Food Box will be giving food to those in need on May 12th for 10 am to 2 pm. Food distribution will be at the Ouachita County Intermediate School Gym located at 255 Pope Street in Camden. You must meet income guidelines. Food will include meat, vegetables and other items such as toilet tissue. Please remain in your vehicle. For More Information call the CADC at 870-839-3200.

 

ARKANSAS READY FOR BUSINESS GRANT PROGRAM
The Arkansas Ready for Business Grant Program has been established by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and is designed to assist businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The program will provide direct grants to companies for expenses associated with ensuring the health and safety of employees and patrons. Eligible expenditures include Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and no-contact thermometers for employees and customers, no-contact Point of Sale (POS) payment equipment; supplies and disinfectants to initially deep clean premises and for use on an ongoing basis; also included are expenses associated with hiring a third party to perform periodic deep cleaning services, hand sanitizer stations, restocking of necessary supplies/raw materials, expenses associated with reconfiguring business to meet recommended health and safety guidelines, signage, marketing and other one-time expenses associated with reopening or resuming normal operations. The program will utilize federal funds provided to the state of Arkansas through the CARES Act.

Grant Program Guidelines: 
  *   Eligible businesses include corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships, LLCs, Joint Ventures and Non-profits (Government-owned entities are not eligible)
  *   All industry sectors are eligible
  *   Business must have a Certificate of Good Standing with the AR Secretary of State’s Office (if a Sole Proprietor, a business license or sales tax permit is required)
  *   Business and owners must NOT be delinquent on any Arkansas tax
  *   Businesses must either have a) customers and/or employees physically coming to their business premises or b) must conduct business on customer premises

When submitting an application please have ready: Driver’s License of authorized business representative, Signed W9, Certificate of Good Standing from Secretary of State (Business License or Sales Tax Permit for Sole Proprietors).
 
For those wishing to apply please visit https://www.arkansasedc.com/covid19resources/business-resources/ready-for-business-grant-program/
AEDC will be accepting applications Tuesday, May 5th from 8:00am – 6:00pm and Wednesday, May 6th from 8:00am – 6:00pm.

 

ARORA RELEASES RADIEIGHT, A PODCAST SERIES SHARING DONOR AND RECIPIENT STORIES AND THE IMPORTANCE OF REGISTERING TO BECOME AN ORGAN, TISSUE AND EYE DONOR
[May 4, 2020 -Little Rock, AR] — Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency, (ARORA) is releasing its first podcast in its new series, RadiEight. RadiEight will focus on sharing donor and recipient stories of organ, tissue and eye donation, and encourage listeners to register to become organ, tissue and eye donors.

“Through this podcast, we want to inform people of the lifesaving and restoring gift of transplantation. Registering to become an organ, tissue and eye donor takes less than a minute and gives hope to those waiting. The decision to register as a donor is the beginning of a story that may bring life and healing to more than 75 people, their families and their communities,” says Alan Cochran, President and Executive Director of ARORA.

RadiEight's first featured guest is Paul Owen, a Little Rock donor dad whose daughter, Melissa, passed away more than four years ago. Her heart recipient is Yolanda Harshaw, also of Little Rock. The families have connected and remain in each other’s lives. During the podcast, Owen tells about his family’s tragedy and how that tragedy became Harshaw’s miracle.

"We live two miles from each other, we even shop at the same grocery store. We never would have known that until we got a letter telling us there was a match. We connected on Facebook and then at the ARORA office and have been friends ever since. She calls my wife, ‘mom’ and her kids call me ‘donor dad.’" Owen said.

RadiEight can be found on Spotify , iTunes , Soundcloud , Youtube and arora.org/podcast.

Sixty-eight percent of Arkansas adults have registered their decision to provide healing to those in need as organ, tissue and eye donors at the time of their death. ARORA is dedicated to bringing attention to the national transplant waiting list where 115,000 people are currently waiting for a lifesaving transplant. On average, 22 people die each day because the organ they need is not donated in time — almost one person dying every hour.

Arkansans can register to become organ, tissue and eye donors at donatelifearkansas.org, at their local Department of Motor Vehicles, online at donatelifearkansas.org or by utilizing one of ARORA's swipe kiosks located in Little Rock, Cabot, Bryant and Pine Bluff.

ABOUT ARORA
The Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency (ARORA) was established in 1987 as a non-profit, independent organ procurement agency. Serving 64 counties across the state, ARORA is headquartered in Little Rock and has a satellite office in northwest Arkansas. ARORA’s mission is to restore lives through the recovery of organs and tissues for transplant.



PROCLAMATION OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION MONTH 
LITTLE ROCK—Union County Judge Mike Loftin, Bearden City Mayor Ginger Bailey, Calion City Mayor Bill Yutzy, Felsenthal City Mayor Linda Newbury and Smackover City Mayor Bobby Neal have declared May as Historic Preservation Month. More than 50 of Arkansas’s 75 counties and 25 cities have joined thousands of communities across the country in presenting proclamations.  

“At the Division of Arkansas Heritage, we believe strongly in our mission to identify and preserve the state’s cultural, historic and natural resources,” said Jimmy Bryant, director of the division. “During the month of May, we are proud to have so many municipalities around the state joining us in celebrating Historic Preservation Month.” 
 
As of Monday, May 4, proclamations continue to trickle into the offices at the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP). To see a complete list of participating counties, visit http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/blog/2020-proclamation-of-historic-preservation-month.  
 
Historic Preservation Month is a nationwide campaign spearheaded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service (NPS), of which the National Register for Historic Places is a program. According to the NPS, Preservation Month was established in 1973, and encourages state and local governments to join with their state historic and preservation societies to issue proclamations that encourage residents to engage in events that instill national and community pride, promote heritage tourism and show the economic benefits of historic preservation.   
 
During the national health crisis, Arkansas Heritage is encouraging citizens to take advantage of “drive by history” by researching historic sites in their county utilizing the AHPP’s database of National Register properties then taking a driving tour to see sites from their research. The database can be accessed at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/Historic-Properties/National-Register/search-national-register-listings.  
 
For more information about Preservation Month, please contact the AHPP at info@arkansaspreservation.com or visit our website at www.arkansaspreservation.com.  
 
The AHPP is an agency of Arkansas Heritage responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering and preserving the state’s cultural resources. Other agencies are the Arkansas Arts Council, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Historic Arkansas Museum and the Arkansas State Archives. Arkansas Heritage is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.   


PPE SUPPLIES FOR WORKFORCE COMPLIANCE
Little Rock, Arkansas, May 4, 2020: Arkansas based non-profit, First2Give.org, has been working with Arkansas businesses since early March to obtain the Personal Protection Supplies required in preparation of the re-opening of businesses across the state.

The organization was established to help organizations acquire the required personal protection products needed to re-open their companies at reasonable prices and delivered within a reasonable timeframe.

First2Give has relationships with manufacturers that produce nearly 70% of the world’s supply of personal protection products.

The non-profit adds a small margin to each order to acquire additional products to donate to frontline healthcare workers and vulnerable populations in Arkansas who do not have the resources to acquire these desperately needed products.

To purchase supplies or to request a quotation on the specific supplies and quantities needed to meet the requirements of your organization, go to First2Give.org/quotes and complete the online form. Your request will be processed on a first come first served basis. Orders will be fulfilled as quickly as possible.

All shipments are delivered direct to each buyer and shipping insurance protects buyers from product loss or damage.

For more information or to complete your request for quotation, go to First2Give.org/quotes.

May 04, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 4, 2020
The number of Coronavirus cases in Arkansas has reached 3,458 positive cases as of 1:30 Monday, afternoon. 1,362 of those cases are considered active.This information was announced during Governor Asa Hutchinson's daily COVID-19 update. It was also reported that the number of hospitalizations stands at 91, with 16 of those patients on ventilators. There have been 2,016 recoveries from the illness in Arkansas, and the state's death toll from COVID-19 has now reached 81.

The big news of the press conference came in the form of an announcement regarding places of worship across the state. Effective as of May 4th, The Governor says he is encouraging online platforms for worship services, and those who do attend in-person church gatherings should continue to adhere to the recommended guidelines for COVID-19 precautions. Those guidelines include proper distancing, no physical touch, face coverings should be worn at all times, and hand sanitizing stations should be placed at building entrances.

Other news reported by The Governor Monday afternoon included an update on large outdoor gatherings at venues across the state, such as rodeos, fairs and festivals. Hutchinson issued a set of precautions to be followed and reminded residents that social distancing, face covering, and limiting audiences to less than 50 people at each event.

The Governor also issued instructions for hosting indoor events as well. These guidelines will go into effect as of May 18th.

Before opening up the floor for questions, The Governor called up Arkansas Economic Commission Secretary Mike Preston, who addressed many of the financial updates affecting Arkansans, including additional funds replenished in the Ready For Business program following the $15 million provided for Arkansas businesses that ran out within an hour. Preston thanked the Legislature for recognizing the need for funds and he announced that the grant funds can be applied for online when the new website launches this week.

Resources and information involving COVID-19 can be found at https://www.arkansasedc.com/ and https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/

Again, there are 3,458 positive COVID-19 cases as of 1:30 p.m. Monday, May 4th. 1,362 of those cases are considered active. This information was announced during Governor Asa Hutchinson's daily COVID-19 update. It was also reported that the number of hospitalizations stands at 91 with 16 of those patients on ventilators. There have been 2,016 recoveries from the illness in Arkansas and the state's death toll has now reached 81. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

 

CAMDEN FAIRVIEW HIGH SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP/AWARD ASSEMBLY
The Camden Fairview High School Scholarship/Award Assembly that was scheduled for Myay 8th has been cancelled. Please contact Tavitha Wooten by emailing twoten@cfsd.k12.ar.us or text 870-390-6336 or email Career Coach Patricia Burks at pburks@sautech.edu by Friday, May 8th. Let them know who you chose as your scholarship recipient, the amount of the scholarship and contact information. The hope is to return later in July with a small meet and greet reception and photo opportunity if allowed.

GOVERNOR & COUNTY JUDGE PROCLAIM ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WEEK MAY 4-9, 2020
Ouachita County joins counties nationwide to increase awareness of the positive work economic developers do to enhance local economic impact
CAMDEN, ARKANSAS (5/4/2020) – Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and Ouachita   County Judge Robert McAdoo have proclaimed May 4-9, 2020 Economic Development Week in Arkansas and Ouachita County. The proclamations  mark the National Economic Development Week from May 4 through 9, 2020, that celebrate the contributions of positive economic development and explain the role of the profession in our local community.

Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities by creating, retaining, and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth, and provide a stable tax base. Economic developers stimulate and incubate entrepreneurism in order to help establish the next generation of new business, which is the hallmark of the American economy.

Economic developers are engaged in a wide variety of settings including rural and urban, local, state, provincial, and federal governments, public-private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities, and a variety of other institutions.

Economic developers work in every county within the state of Arkansas. 

Economic developers attract and retain high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities, and improve the quality of life in their regions.

About Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development:
The Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development, Inc. (OPED), serves as the areas lead economic development agency and point of contact for business and industry looking to locate or expand in our community. The organization is a PARTNERSHIP composed of Ouachita County, the City of Camden, the Camden Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Camden Area Industrial Development Corporation, (CAIDC). We work closely as a team member with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, (AEDC), the state of Arkansas’ office for economic development. OPED is the go-to organization that AEDC looks to for prospect visits for our area. We serve as host whenever the state brings a business prospect into our community for a site evaluation. We prepare pertinent data and presentations in coordination with the AEDC project manager in advance of the prospect visit in order to give our community the best chance possible to “win” the project for our area. Since June 2015, OPED has helped to create 693 new jobs for our area in cooperation with AEDC. We work to develop small businesses through our Camden Accelerated Business Services, (CABS) office, which provides a business consultant through the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center. OPED is a proud member of the Arkansas Economic Developers and Chamber Executives, AEDCE, and the Arkansas Aerospace and Defense Alliance.

 

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE RELEASES VIDEO
“Arkansas, We are in this Together” Video Release
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Department), on behalf of Arkansas agriculture and stakeholders, has created a video message of reassurance to Arkansans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department encourages Arkansans to support local, support each other, and support Arkansas agriculture.

“Arkansas agriculture continues to provide the food, fiber, and shelter that we all depend on despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture.  “We appreciate the efforts and resiliency of our state’s agriculture industry as we all work together to get through this difficult time.”

The video can be found on the Department YouTube page (youtube.com/watch?v=8RPaLnk99ts) and COVID-19 Resource page (agriculture.arkansas.gov/covid-19) of our website: arkansas.agriculture.gov.

The Department has also produced numerous shareable and printable COVID-19 resources. We invite and encourage use of all resources which can be found on our COVID-19 Resource page, including:

Print andShareable Resources
COVID-19 Farm Safety video:
 ArkansasCOVID-19 Food Access Map

Department COVID-19 resources can also be found on our social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Department is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Arkansas Ready for Business Grant Program Ensuring the Health and Safety of Employees and Patrons Pursuant to the direction of Governor Asa Hutchinson and Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) has established a grant program to assist businesses affected by the COVID19 outbreak. The program will provide direct grants to businesses for expenses associated with ensuring the health and safety of employees and patrons. The program will utilize federal funds provided to the State of Arkansas through the CARES Act. Program Update (5/1/20): Due to overwhelming demand during the program rollout, AEDC has revised the allocation of funds among qualified applicants in order to provide assistance to more Arkansas organizations. Qualified applicants may receive grants up to $1,000 per FTE and up to $500 per part-time FTE (as described below). Grant Program Guidelines:

• Eligible businesses include corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships (including independent contractors), LLCs, Joint Ventures and Non-profits (Government-owned entities are not eligible)
• All industry sectors are eligible
• Business must have Certificate of Good Standing with the AR Secretary of State’s Office; (if a Sole Proprietor, a business license or sales tax permit is required)
• Business and owners must NOT be delinquent on any Arkansas tax
• Businesses must either have a) customers and/or employees physically coming to their business premises or b) must conduct business on customer premises
• Applications will be reviewed in the order in which they are received. Applications will only be considered when a complete application is submitted with all required attachments.  Required attachments: Driver’s License of authorized business representative, Signed W9, Certificate of Good Standing from Secretary of State (Business License or Sales Tax Permit for Sole Proprietors)
• Grant amounts will be based on number of Arkansas W2 employees as of March 1, 2020:
 1 FTE = up to a $1,000 grant;  2+ FTEs = up to a $1,000 per FTE; 1 Arkansas W2 full-time employee = 1 FTE; 1 Arkansas W2 part-time employees = 5 FTE; Full-time employees must work an average of at least 30 hours per week. Owners working at least 30 hours per week who do not receive a W2 can be included.  Part-time employees must work an average of at least 15 hours per week o Example – 2 AR W2 full-time employees (2 FTEs) and 6 AR W2 part-time employees (3 FTEs) equals a grant of up to $5,000

• Maximum grant amount is $100,000
• Eligible expenditures include Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and no-contact thermometers for employees and customers, no-contact Point of Sale (POS) payment equipment; supplies and disinfectants to initially deep clean premises and for use on an ongoing basis; also included are expenses associated with hiring a third party to perform periodic deep cleaning services, hand sanitizer stations, restocking of necessary supplies/raw materials, expenses associated with reconfiguring business to meet recommended health and safety guidelines, signage, marketing and other one-time expenses associated with reopening or resuming normal operations
• Eligible expenditures must be made between March 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020
• Businesses will be required to verify funds were used for eligible expenditures and shall be required to repay all or a portion of the grant if business is found not in compliance with grant requirements
• Businesses that have previously been awarded assistance through other AEDC programs or SBA programs are not prohibited from applying for the Ready for Business Grant Program
• At least 15% of the recipients will be women and minority owned businesses as defined by Arkansas Statute.
• At least 75% of the total funds will go to businesses with 50 employees or less.

 

MONDAY MORNING COVID-19 UPDATE
"Deaths from COVID-19 in Arkansas rose to 73 over the weekend. Statewide, the positive number of cases had risen Saturday to 3,372. However, only 1,312 of those were considered active cases. Hospitalizations were up to 100, but the number of patients on ventilators had dropped to 20. 

At the most recent press conference Saturday afternoon, Governor Asa Hutchinson says the state is strategically re-opening businesses with a very careful, phased-in approach. Gyms and fitness centers may reopen today with distancing and sanitizing guidelines in place. Barber shops, beauty salons, massage therapy facilities, and body art establishments may reopen on Wednesday, with spacing and cleaning directives to be followed. Restaurants may resume dine-in operations on Monday, May 11th to limited traffic, with safety measures expected to be followed. At his press conference later today at 1:30, Governor Hutchinson says an announcement will be made regarding church services and events at larger public venues:"

"Although COVID-19 cases in the state are continuing to rise, Governor Hutchinson says there are signs that the rate of infection is slowing, with a 12-day decline in the number of positive tests. The state is testing an average of 1,500 people daily, and the percentage of those who test positive has declined from a high of 25% on April 20th to about 3% as of Friday. However, Governor Hutchinson says that state officials are taking seriously the warnings from prominent public health officials that the virus could rebound in the fall or even be a seasonal threat:"

"In other COVID-19 news, Arkansas House and Senate leaders couldn't agree by late Friday afternoon on how to boost the spending authority of a grant program, leaving small businesses in limbo. Governor Hutchinson decided to seek legislative approval for authority to spend $100 million in federal funds through the Arkansas Ready for Business program. The administration originally intended for the program to have $15 million, but demand topped $36 million in less that an hour after the website opened prematurely last Wednesday evening. Legislative leaders will continue to work toward an agreement on a dollar amount that will help small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Again, the death toll has risen to 73 in Arkansas due to COVID-19. There are now 3,372 positive cases, and 1,987 recoveries statewide. In our local area: In Ouachita County, there are seven positive cases and five recoveries. In Calhoun County, there are still no confirmed cases.  We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned."

POLL SHOWS OVERWHELMING PARENT SUPPORT FOR EDUCATORS DURING COVID-19 CRISIS 
Nearly nine out of 10 approve of how their children’s teachers are handling the pandemic
LITTLE ROCK— The first full week of May has been National Teacher Appreciation Week for decades. But this year, with students not in school buildings as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and educators working in new ways to teach from a distance, deliver meals, and more, the occasion is more meaningful than ever. And a new national poll shows parents and guardians overwhelmingly approve of how educators are handling the pandemic. 

 

“We all know Arkansas’s educators make a difference in our students lives every day, but this crisis makes it clear that the impact of our teachers and education support professionals isn’t limited to classrooms, cafeterias or bus routes,” says AEA President Carol Fleming. “As we all navigate this unprecedented situation, we can all see educators striving to stay connected with our students without in-person interaction or the resources of our school buildings.” 
  
Results of the national poll by NEA show parents and guardians express extremely positive views of educators. More than 80 percent of parents/guardians view public school teachers very favorably. Eighty-eight percent of parents approve of how their children’s teachers are handling the coronavirus pandemic. The national survey was conducted by GBAO Strategies and included a survey of 800 parents and guardians of school-aged children who attend a public school. 

 

Angela Hunter, a parent to twin 4th-graders at Gibbs International Studies Magnet Elementary in the Little Rock School District says her children’s teachers have been extremely communicative with parents and with students, providing regular updates, one-on-one and small group discussions, and taking an interest in how all the families are doing.  

"We’re all in this together and the teachers are providing phenomenal support in difficult circumstances,” Hunter says. “These teachers really care and knowing that has made figuring out how to deal with these changes much easier for me as a parent and for my kids as learners.” 
 

The poll also showed that parents and guardians believe educators are working hard to communicate with them, that educators are finding ways to connect with students who don’t have internet access and they are giving their students more one-on-one assistance. 
 

“Educators always rise to meet our students’ needs, and we’re seeing that play out across the state,” says AEA President Carol Fleming. “We hope Arkansans will take this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week to thank not just teachers, but all educators who have risen to meet this moment and provide for our students.” 
  
It took teachers and faculty a matter of days—and, in many cases, a few hours—to move their classes online when school buildings across Arkansas closed because of COVID-19. Despite the challenges of distance learning, which can make it difficult to develop the kinds of relationships that support learning, educators have demonstrated strong commitment and creativity in providing students with continuous learning opportunities. 
  
National Teacher Day began in 1953 when former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt proposed that Congress set aside a day to acknowledge the work of educators. Since 1985, NEA has celebrated National Teacher Day on the Tuesday of the first full week of May. For more information on National Teacher Day visit nea.org/appreciate. 
  
Since 1984, National PTA has designated one week in May as Teacher Appreciation Week, a special time to honor the men and women who lend their passion and skills to educating our children. PTA events at the national, state and local levels celebrate the outstanding contributions teachers make. 

“We know that appreciation alone will not reduce the challenges teachers face right now to help meet the needs of their students but celebrating them and their work to help students will let them know their efforts are not unnoticed,” says NEA President Lily Eskelsen. 

Findings from a national survey of educators will be released in the coming weeks. 
Visit nea.org/appreciate for more information on National Teacher Day. 
Visit www.pta.org/home/events/PTA-Teacher-Appreciation-Week

CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FOR ARKANSAS COLLEGES
U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton, along with Congressman Bruce Westerman, announced an additional round of coronavirus relief funding for Arkansas’s colleges and universities Friday to help ensure learning continues during the pandemic.

The funds totaling more than $14.5 million come from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These monies are provided in addition to the money previously allocated in the first round.

Southern Arkansas University Tech in Camden will receive $38,543. South Arkansas Community College in El Dorado will receive $52,217. Southern Arkansas University Main Campus in Magnolia will receive $196,019.

Institutions may use this funding to cover the cost of technology associated with a transition to distance education, grants to cover the costs of attendance for eligible students, and training for faculty and staff. Additionally, funds may be used to cover operational costs, such as lost revenue, reimbursements for prior expenses, and payroll.

Arkansas colleges and universities received over $100 million in the first round of emergency grants to support postsecondary students and institutes of higher education impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

GRAPETTE’S IN CAMDEN MAKES MOST ENDANGERED LIST
Preserve Arkansas announced its annual list of most endangered places on Friday. Among the seven places listed among Arkansas’ most endangered places was Grapette’s headquarters in Camden.

The Grapette Building was the headquarters and bottling plant of the Grapette Company, makers of one of America’s best-selling soft drinks. The building now has structural safety issues, according to Preserve Arkansas.

Benjamin Tyndle Fooks, the founder of Grapette, purchased the industrial building in 1945 and added on to it later.

Other south Arkansas sites included in the Preserve Arkansas report Friday included the Bank of Carthage in Dallas County and the Old Jail Log Cabin in Lewisville in Lafayette County.

The Most Endangered Places Program began in 1999 to raise awareness of historically and architecturally significant properties that are facing threats such as deterioration, neglect, insufficient resources, and insensitive development. The list is updated each year to generate discussion and support for saving places that matter to Arkansans, according to the news release.

 
 
 

May 01, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 1, 2020
Coronavirus cases in Arkansas have risen to 3,321, though only 1,284 of those cases are considered active. There are 1,973 people who have recovered from COVID-19, while 95 patients remain hospitalized from the illness and 23 of them are on ventilators. The coronavirus death total in the state has now reached 64.

This information was reported during Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson's latest COVID-19 press conference update Friday, May 1st.

The month of May also brings good news for Hair stylists, barbers, massage therapists and tattoo artists, as The Governor announced that May 6th is the date in which salon professionals can open back up for business.

Another news update revealed during the conference was an initiative being made to support Arkansas minority communities. The Governor called upon Director Michelle Smith, who highlighted the mission of the department of equity at the Department of Health and how COVID-19 has been impacting minorities. Smith says a COVID relief initiative will provide new grant opportunities for those in need.

Lastly, Governor Hutchinson addressed the recent "Ready For Business" Grant that was released earlier this week but quickly ran out of the $15 million that had been made available to Arkansas business owners. The Governor says more funds are now being provided due to the high demand, and the process is currently under legislative review. 

Again, the number of Coronavirus cases in Arkansas has risen to 3,321, with 1,284 of those cases are considered active. There are 1,973 people who have recovered from COVID-19, while 95 patients remain hospitalized from the illness and 23 of them are on ventilators. The coronavirus death total in the state has now reached 64.

We'll keep you updated, stay tuned.

PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE FOR DETERMINE IF COUNTY SHOULD APPLY FOR ACEDP FUNDS
A public hearing will be held on May 5th, 2020 at 6:30 P.M.  at the Ouachita County Courthouse.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event will not be available for attendance in-person, and will be on covered by radio station KBEU and The Camden News.  Again, please do NOT attend the public hearing in person.

This meeting is for the purpose of identifying and prioritizing the community needs of Ouachita County, determining whether an application for Arkansas Community and Economic Development Program (ACEDP) funds should be developed and if so, for what community need.  Also, comments on proposed project activities will be discussed, especially those with possible impacts on the community, should the project receive funding.

ACEDP funds are federal assistance received by the State of Arkansas and administered by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. These funds will be made available to cities and counties according to need and can be used for housing rehabilitation, community facilities, or economic development, but must address one of the following objectives: 

1. Provide benefit to low and moderate income families,

2. Aid in the prevention of slum and blight, or

3. Meet other community needs, which pose a serious, immediate threat to the health or welfare of the community where no other funding is available to meet such needs.

All residents of Ouachita County are encouraged to attend the hearing and participate in the community development process. Ouachita County will provide technical assistance in developing proposals by groups representing low and moderate-income persons.

BAKED POTATO LUNCH FUNDRAISER FOR CASA
There will be a baked potato lunch fundraiser for CASA on Thursday, May 7th from 11 am to 1 pm at the First Presbyterian Church located at 313 Greening Street in Camden. Drive Up or Delivery. The meal includes a baked russet potato with butter, cheese bacon, chives and sour cream, desert and bottled water or baked sweet potato with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar, desert and bottled water. Cost is $10.00. Add pulled pork for only $2.00 extra. Preorder by calling Terri at 870-818-2824. All proceeds benefit the 13th Judicial District North Program for the abused and neglected children served by CASA.


LOCKHEED MARTIN ANNOUNCES CONTRACTS FOR APRIL 30, 2020
Lockheed Martin Corp., Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded a $6,068,344,959 firm-fixed-price contract for incidental services, hardware, facilities, equipment and all technical, planning, management, manufacturing and testing efforts to produce Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target Advanced Capability-3 missiles, missile segment enhancement configuration and associated ground support equipment and spares.  Bids were solicited via the internet with one received.  Work will be performed in Huntsville, Alabama; Camden, Arkansas; Ocala, Florida; Chelmsford, Massachusetts; Grand Prairie and Lufkin, Texas; and Archbald, Pennsylvania, with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2027.  Fiscal 2020 missile procurement (Army) funds in the amount of $6,068,344,959 were obligated at the time of the award.  U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-20-C-0023).

 

April 30, 2020

 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – APRIL 30, 2020
The lifting of restrictions caused by COVID-19 continues in Arkansas, as Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that May 4th is the date that gyms and fitness centers across the state can begin re-opening. 

The information was revealed during the Governor's latest COVID-19 press conference update held Thursday afternoon. Although gyms have been given the green light to resume business, it won’t be without precautionary measures. The Governor announced that screening for staff and patients will be required, and no pools, spas, or saunas will be included in the re-opening category just yet. 

The number of coronavirus cases in Arkansas has reached 3,255, with 1,888 of those cases considered active. There are 95 people currently in the hospital with the illness and 23 of those patients remain on a ventilator at this time.  Although 61 people have now died from COVID-19 in Arkansas, 1,305 people are now considered to be recovered. No new counties have been announced since Montgomery was added to the list of reporting counties on Wednesday. 

Though gyms will be re-opening Monday, The Governor reported that team sports are not yet approved to resume. However later this month, the status of youth athletics will be re-evaluated in regards to the remainder of the summer going forward. 
During the press conference, both Governor Hutchinson and Dr. Nathaniel Smith reiterated the importance of maintaining social distancing and following the precautions in place as restrictions are lifted. Officials recommend to sanitize surfaces, practice social distancing, and refrain from contact with anyone who has come in contact with the virus, in order to help continuing to defend against the pandemic, even as limitations on businesses are removed. 

Again, Arkansas has reported 3,255 COVID-19 cases with 1,888 of those cases considered active. There are 95 people currently hospitalized, and 23 of those patients remain on a ventilator at this time.  Although 61 people have now died from COVID-19 in Arkansas, 1,305 people are now considered to be recovered. We'll keep you updated, stay tuned.  

9 SCHOOLS, 2 DISTRICTS SELECTED FOR FOURTH YEAR OF PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITIES AT WORK® PROJECT 
Camden Fairview High School Included
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Education, in partnership with Solution Tree, a national professional development provider, announces the fourth cohort selected for the Professional Learning Communities at Work® project. ADE also celebrates the four Arkansas schools from the first cohort that were recently named PLC Model Schools.

Nine schools and two districts from around the state were selected for the 2020-2021 school year and join the 29 schools and four districts chosen the last three years. As with the first three cohorts, each school and district in the fourth cohort will receive up to 50 days of training, coaching, and support to build and sustain a strong culture of collaboration that will enhance student learning.

Those chosen completed a rigorous application and evaluation process. A panel of education professionals reviewed all applications, and the ADE selected the following schools and districts to receive support from Solution Tree.  
Bayyari Elementary School in the Springdale School District
Camden Fairview High School in the Camden Fairview School District
Centerpoint School District
Clinton School District (Clinton Elementary School and Clinton Junior High School)
Crossett High School in the Crossett School District
Hot Springs Junior Academy in the Hot Springs School District
Lake Hamilton Junior High School in the Lake Hamilton School District
Northside High School in the Fort Smith School District
Rivercrest High School in the Rivercrest School District
Valley Springs Elementary School in the Valley Springs School District
Watson Elementary School in the Little Rock School District

"I am always excited when we take a proven best practice model, implement it here in Arkansas, and see continued success,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “The PLC model is one of those examples. It has transformed the day-to-day operations and culture at schools around the state, leading to improved outcomes with student learning. Congratulations to this new cohort of schools selected to join the PLC family, and congratulations to the four schools from the first cohort that were selected as model schools for the state.”

The following four schools, which were part of the first cohort of PLC schools selected in 2017, were recently named PLC Model Schools for their excellence in implementing the PLC at Work model with fidelity. 
Ballman Elementary School in the Fort Smith School District
Greenbrier Eastside Elementary School in the Greenbrier School District
Spradling Elementary School in the Fort Smith School District
Morrilton Intermediate School in the South Conway County School District

In order to be named a model school, a school must demonstrate a commitment to PLC concepts; implement those concepts for at least three years; present clear evidence of improved student learning; explain the culture, practices, and structures of the school or district and be considered for the recognition; and update school or district information on the site each year to show continued progress in meeting the PLC at Work criteria. 

“When I first attended a PLC institute several years ago, I immediately knew we needed to implement the model in Arkansas,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “Not only is the PLC at Work model one of the most highly-recognized best practices in the country, it is backed by numerous years of research. Since launching the PLC initiative in Arkansas, we have seen teachers across multiple subject areas come together to collaborate, lead by example, and make needed changes that have transformed student learning at their schools. The work is hard, but the payoffs have been huge. Congratulations to the new cohort and to the four schools recently named model schools. You serve as leading examples for all schools in the state."

“Year after year we are continually impressed by the improvements and accomplishments of each cohort,” Solution Tree President and COO Ed Ackerman said. “We are thrilled to welcome nine additional schools and two districts to the project and begin helping them work collaboratively to build professional learning communities. When it comes to improving student education, we truly believe — and research and results show — there is no better approach.”

The 2020-2021 schools and districts will be matched with a certified PLC at Work associate from Solution Tree and receive intensive job-embedded training, observation, and coaching. The schools and district will create action plans that focus on increasing student achievement through aligned curriculum, formative assessments, and proven instructional strategies. During the second year, the schools and districts will deepen their understanding and focus on implementing multi-tiered systems of support, followed by strengthening their systems and sustaining the process in year three.

Act 427 of 2017, which amended Arkansas Code Ann. § 6-20-2305(b)(5), provides funding for the project. For more information, please visit the ADE website at https://bit.ly/2ugELNw and follow this project on social media at #PLC4AR.


STATE POLICE RE-OPENING SKILLS TESTING TO DRIVER LICENSE APPICANTS
Site Locations Pared, Health Screening To Occur
APRIL 30, 2020

The Arkansas State Police plans to restore skills testing for driver license applicants next week.  The tests will be limited to applicants who use the state police web site for scheduling a skills test and receive confirmation of the test date and time.  Additionally, the tests will only be offered at twelve locations across Arkansas.

The web site scheduler for skills tests will be opened to applicants on Monday, May 4th.  Applicants should be prepared to choose one of the twelve sites where the skills tests will be offered.  The scheduler tool can be accessed at https://www.ark.org/asp_driver_scheduler/

On March 18th the Arkansas State Police implemented precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus with temporary and limited adjustments in Class D driver license testing procedures.  As the virus threat begins to diminish, the locations for license testing will be limited since many of the city and county facilities used by the state police remain closed to public access.
 
The continuing COVID-19 pandemic will require Class D skills test applicants to remain inside their vehicle at the open testing sites until a testing agent approaches the vehicle with further instructions.
 
Effective next Monday anyone at a state police facility for purposes of being administered any form of a driver license test (Class D written or skills and commercial driver license) will be required to wear an appropriate face mask covering both the mouth and nose, pass a health assessment survey, and be willing to submit to a body temperature scan.  Social distancing practices will be mandatory at all testing sites.  The new precautionary measures were developed in conjunction with the Arkansas Department of Health.
 
Additional information and pre-requisites for driver license testing can be found at https://asp.arkansas.gov/services-and-programs/detail/driver-examination

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: SCAMMERS ATTEMPT TO EXTORT ARKANSANS INTO PAYOUT
Says, ‘Criminals are using old or similar passwords to illegally extort Arkansans’
LITTLE ROCK – While social distancing, Arkansans have been taking precautions and staying at home, which means more time spent online. As a result, scam artists are using tactics to extort money from Arkansans by threatening to release compromising photos. To dupe the recipient of an extortion email, the scammer may print the consumer’s email password or use high-pressure tactics to get them to pay right away. These actions are not only a scam, but also a criminal offense.

“Criminals are using old or similar passwords to illegally extort Arkansans into sending large sums of money to scam artists,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Anyone threatening or using high-pressure tactics to force payment is perpetrating a scam, and any Arkansan receiving such communications should cease contact immediately with the scammer and call my office.”

Attorney General Rutledge along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has provided these tips for Arkansans using the internet while social distancing.

Do not open emails or attachments from unknown individuals.

Monitor your bank account statements regularly, and your credit report at least once a year for any unusual activity.

Do not respond to unsolicited email senders or click on phishing links, outdated information or give personal information through email.

Do not store sensitive information online or on your mobile devices.

Use strong passwords containing numbers and symbols, and do not use the same password for multiple websites.

Never provide personal information of any sort via email. Be aware that many emails requesting your personal information appear to be legitimate.

Ensure security settings for social media accounts are activated and set at the highest level of protection.

Verify the web address of legitimate websites and manually type the address into your browser for greater protection.

For more information, or if you believe you have been a victim of criminal extortion file a complaint with the FBI at www.ic3.gov or contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or oag@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
 

TREASURER OF STATE DENNIS MILLIGAN ANNOUNCES FINANCIAL EDUCATION INITIATIVE
Year-long plan addresses pre-K through 12th grade students"
Little Rock, Ark. – Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan is encouraging families to talk to their children about money and finances. Milligan announced his financial education initiative “Educate Your Financial Future,” to commemorate Financial Literacy Month, which occurs each year in April. The new initiative will focus on teaching children in grades pre-K through 12th about saving money and spending wisely.

“As Treasurer of State, my responsibility as the state’s banker includes managing millions of state and local tax monies that flow through our office on a daily basis. A basic understanding of financial knowledge is a critical tool that we all must learn if we want to be successful,” Milligan said. “I want to empower all Arkansans to take charge of theirfinancial future, so I’m excited about starting this  journey with Arkansas parents for their children.”

Milligan created the AR Finance AR Future program during his first year in office in order to help address the lack of financial education in schools. The program targeted students in fourth- through sixth-grades across Arkansas and taught basic concepts of spending, saving and investing money.

With a nationwide trend toward encouraging financial literacy among young people, Milligan is working to grow the AR Finance AR Future program with this new book-reading initiative.

THE DISTRICT COURT OF CAMDEN AND OUACHITA COUNTY ANNOUNCES COURT CANCELLATIONS
Additional dates of Court sessions have been canceled due to Corona Virus crisis. All District Court sessions have been cancelled for the month of May 2020. The courts will announce the rescheduled dates as soon as that information is available. The Courts are working diligently to make preparations for when they reopen. The main objective is to keep the public and staff safe

ARKANSAS READY FOR BUSINESS GRANT PROGRAM
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission has launched Arkansas Ready for Business, a $15 million grant program to assist businesses with COVID-19-related expenses, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced.

Arkansas Ready for Business Program Guidelines<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001JluRbQJflTQeRExSSBiRnaj65O3Kdklfx2EY05g9be5Uf35SNqr0PFyyjS7mc7cKmMjTq2thkoZj1bSfC9tbWN72kCI3qT5dldYEJePphXFHp9XmkPbIzYIAqMkx40qlnn8tislD61ld22XQrk1EJRCdYHi6aKXSplX53LO4dqIp-KV7pkhv6XLNe0E04OILA0z9biN7N6db5-ayP9xMdgwUIVSAzyNddxcnQTa72MyRisy5OLcNa8hktItoJTnzvepHtqfsQzy8V90rA0bxqiZ1Lc9G7qggeTUWME6xWAKFsZBhtkBUdkEXTOeY_ZqDaTuutspW7d4=&c=5cIPsBQOCYpgMc2qsu_Y_BJs8NTpAUZrxkl9E3VLEF-S-zSsx1xwuA==&ch=1Catgwok-BIf76CN9s4Dyak_-4W0fYh5M5_-Kdcq9cfOo2b2y2kFCg==>

The program will provide grants of $1,000 to $100,000, based on the number of employees. Businesses may use grant funds to pay for personal protective equipment (PPE), deep cleaning, signage, hand sanitizer dispensers, marketing, and more.

Apply on the AEDC website<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001JluRbQJflTQeRExSSBiRnaj65O3Kdklfx2EY05g9be5Uf35SNqr0PFyyjS7mc7cKoCG6SbONWT7VPSDxW7a3BWqQukT4Q_NYZKO2T_WPQfY2v7oTdf4PsHBmRecR8UZNG9pfiDISmPsipRABzvp1O7Xi7fDUJxIfwGSa5n4BKus2CzbJSCB-0nZ2IaSVlAcs9lY0iY8DFP1HNeEroaLptD3GM0SHoZ_-o3KYMBHMhIhBUAOldVD3dJQnhRe9IbR9&c=5cIPsBQOCYpgMc2qsu_Y_BJs8NTpAUZrxkl9E3VLEF-S-zSsx1xwuA==&ch=1Catgwok-BIf76CN9s4Dyak_-4W0fYh5M5_-Kdcq9cfOo2b2y2kFCg==>.

  *   You will need to provide the following: driver's license of authorized business representative, signed W9, voided check, and certificate of good standing from Secretary of State (business license or sales tax permit for sole proprietors).

  *   Applications will be reviewed in the order in which they are received.

ARKANSAS BUSINESS REOPENING INFORMATION
Restaurants will have the option to reopen in Phase 1 beginning May 11. This phase is part one of three with the timeline of progression being based on data as the process evolves. Phase 1 will allow restaurants to reopen on May 11 at 33% capacity. Additional guidelines will be provided soon.

Other industry reopening announcements:
Gyms announcement happening April 30
Salons announcement happening May 1
Church announcement happening this weekend

HUMAN RESOURCES
U. S. Department of Labor issues COVID-19 relief and guidance for employee benefit plans. Read the release and find important links here.<https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/ebsa/ebsa20200428>

SBA PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM
SBA understands that many of the smallest small businesses rely on community lenders for their banking needs. To ensure access to the PPP loan program for the smallest lenders and their small business customers, today, April 29th beginning at 4 p.m. till midnight ET, SBA systems will only accept loan applications from lenders with asset sizes less than $1 billion dollars.

Updated Regularly: PPP FAQs<https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Paycheck-Protection-Program-Frequently-Asked-Questions.pdf?utm_source=April+24%2C+2020+CRL&utm_campaign=061319+Daily&utm_medium=email>

On-Demand: My PPP Has Been Approved, Now What Webinar - https://youtu.be/PlqqnUG-BDU

SBA ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOAN AND ADVANCE
SBA is unable to accept new applications at this time for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)-COVID-19 related assistance program (including EIDL Advances) based on available appropriations funding.

For EIDL Loan and Advance Program questions or assistance please call the SBA Disaster Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or, for the deaf and hard-of-hearing 1-800-877-8339 (Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Time) or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov<mailto:disastercustomerservice@sba.gov>. The District Office and ASBTDC have no visibility on the status of EIDL Loans.


SBA EXPRESS BRIDGE LOANS
The Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program<https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/sba-express-bridge-loans> allows small businesses that have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork. If a small business has an urgent need for cash while waiting for a decision and disbursement on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, it may qualify for an SBA Express Disaster Bridge Loan. You'll find an Express Bridge Loan Lender via SBA's Lender Match Tool<http://www.sba.gov/LenderMatch> or by connecting to the Little Rock District Office of the SBA<https://www.sba.gov/offices/district/ar/little-rock>.

SBA DEBT RELIEF
As part of SBA Debt Relief<https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/sba-debt-relief> efforts, The SBA will automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of current 7(a), 504, and microloans for six months. The SBA will also automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of new 7(a), 504, and microloans issued before September 27, 2020.

SBA Loan Reference Guide: https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/articles/FY_2019_LoanQuickReference.pdf

Consultant Notes: If you are interested in applying for an SBA 7(a), 504, or microloan, please contact us for information on what may be required for these. These are NOT the same as applying for the Disaster Relief programs (EIDL, PPP, etc.).

WEBINARS AND RESOURCES
Small Business Relief Grant
The next round will open on May 14th. Please see the Small Business Relief Grants webpage for further information and resources: https://www.lisc.org/covid-19/small-business-assistance/small-business-relief-grants/.

ASBTDC Webinars
Recordings of webinars from the ASBTDC COVID-19 "Keep Calm and Small Business On" series will be available on this YouTube playlist. This includes webinars about the EIDL and PPP programs: COVID-19 Webinars<https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLfRRto7FvXoYDI86wAKJU_WQ8r5ihZFiL>

Business Continuity for Pandemic Recovery Register Here - Wednesday, May 6, 2PM <https://asbtdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/70370850>

Creating Trust in Your Brand During COVID-19 Register Here - Thursday, May 7, 2:00PM <https://asbtdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/70370851>

Explore the National Science Foundation's SBIR/STTR Program Register Here - Monday, May 11, 10:00AM <https://asbtdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/70370842>

Intro to the Environmental Protection Agency's SBIR Program Register Here - Wednesday, May 20, 9:00AM <https://asbtdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/70370843>

Fraud Seminar
The National Cyber Security Alliance and partners are hosting a free webinar and will break down some of the most common COVID-19 scams they are seeing today and will provide attendees with tips and resources they can use to avoid these scams.
How to Avoid COVID-19 Scams
Register Here - Tuesday, May 5<https://staysafeonline.org/event/how-to-avoid-covid-19-scams-may-5-2020/>

SBA Coronavirus Pandemic Disaster Loans Comparison Tool This guide is a courtesy tool of America's SBDC. Use it to determine which programs best meet the capital needs of your business. Refer to it regularly for updates. Get the guide here.<https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/12xv4xcsg_9xoVeEE_Y1j2sicNbCvl2GAVinSowU2zgg/edit#gid=702828758>

We are also posting things regularly to our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SAU.SBTDC/. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out! Again, stay in touch with your local banker and keep them apprised of any financial challenges. Consultant Reminder: Email your banker weekly with an update.

*The health and safety of our clients, employees, and community are our primary concern. In order to provide continued services, SAU ASBTDC staff are working virtually. We are available to assist customers by phone, Zoom conferencing, or email.

PPE SUPPLIES FOR WORKFORCE
Little Rock, Arkansas, April 29, 2020: An Arkansas non-profit, First2Give.org, is working with manufacturers, healthcare facilities, schools, state agencies and businesses to obtain the Personal Protection Supplies required in preparation of re-opening businesses across the state and region.

 First2Give.org was established to help organizations acquire the personal protection products they need or may be required to obtain at reasonable prices and delivered within a reasonable timeframe.

The non-profit adds a small margin to each order and then acquires additional products to donate to frontline healthcare workers who do not have the resources to acquire these desperately needed products.

First2Give’s founders have direct contact with multiple international factories that manufacturer these supplies and are able to place orders directly. The organization’s founders include David Martin, President of Allegiance Consulting Group. Martin has done business throughout Asia for nearly thirty years and has been the primary contact in establishing the organization’s direct relationship with the manufacturers that produce nearly 70% of the world’s supply of personal protection products.

To purchase supplies or to request a quotation on the supplies and quantities to meet your organization’s needs, go to First2Give.org/quote and complete the online form.

Your request will be processed on a first come first served basis. Orders will be batched and placed every few days in order to fulfill them as quickly as possible. All shipments are delivered direct to each buyer.

For more information or to complete your request for quotation, go to First2Give.org/quote.

ARKANSAS HIGHWAY POLICE TO DISTRIBUTE 100,000 MASKS TO TRUCK DRIVERSLITTLE ROCK (04-30) – Officers from the Arkansas Highway Police Division of the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) are distributing 100,000 masks to commercial truck drivers at weigh stations and rest areas across the state. This is part of a coordinated effort with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to distribute one million protective masks to law enforcement agencies throughout the country for further distribution to commercial truckers. 

“Our officers are glad to be a part of this massive effort to distribute one million masks to truck drivers who are traveling our nation’s highways and keeping our supply chain operational during the pandemic,” stated Arkansas Highway Police Chief Jay Thompson. “We appreciate that FEMA supplied the masks, and our state partners are working together to ensure the masks reach America’s truck drivers at our rest areas and weigh stations.”  

State and local partners, in conjunction with FMCSA, continue to assist in the distribution of the masks to ensure that they are supplied directly to truck drivers who are maintaining the nation’s supply chain during this crisis. Arkansas was the first state in the country to receive and begin distributing the masks.

“We are happy be a part of this effort to support the commercial transportation industry in Arkansas. This emergency has truly opened the eyes of many about how important the role of a truck driver is to this country,” said Lorie Tudor, ARDOT Director, “In addition, at the suggestion of the Arkansas Trucking Association, we have granted permits to food truck operators to provide hot food to truck drivers in designated Arkansas rest areas. We want to do our part during this crisis.”

BLUE & YOU FOUNDATION AWARDS NEW RAPID-RESPONSE COVID-19 RELIEF GRANTS 
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (April 29, 2020)
– The Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas has awarded nine additional grants in its Rapid-Response COVID-19 Relief program, which will provide up to $1.7 million in grants to organizations in Arkansas working to prevent the spread of coronavirus or helping communities deal with its effects. 

New Rapid-Response COVID-19 Relief grants were awarded to: 

Arkansas Hospice, Inc., Little Rock ($148,715) – to provide safe delivery of healthcare-related services to hospice and palliative care patients and families and support social distancing for remote workers by using a new IT platform for telehealth. This solution also builds a new, long-term, sustainable model for patients and families in a 43-county service area in Arkansas. 

Mercy Health Foundation Northwest Arkansas, Rogers ($147,860) – to convert 29 rooms to airborne infection isolation rooms that will create a crucial barrier to help protect patients, healthcare workers and the community from the spread of the coronavirus. 

Arkansas Rural Health Partnership, Lake Village ($136,400) – to enable member hospitals to provide quality and specialty care via telehealth to COVID-19 patients throughout south Arkansas. Funding will be used to purchase telehealth equipment and supplies for all participating sites. 

St. Bernards Development Foundation, Jonesboro ($126,705) – to convert emergency department treatment rooms into “negative-pressure” rooms for improved infection control and respiratory treatment and to purchase testing equipment for faster diagnosis and treatment of patients who have COVID-19 symptoms. 

White River Health System, Batesville ($112,000) – to expand telehealth services to COVID-19 patients and high-risk patients who have chronic diseases by implementing remote patient monitoring in north central Arkansas. 

University of Arkansas Foundation (UAMS), Little Rock ($60,848) – to support the UAMS COVID-19 Mobile Triage project to expand access to COVID-19 screening/testing, particularly in underserved Arkansas communities and rural areas that lack adequate testing resources. Funding will be used to purchase a van to support a permanent mobile triage unit, allowing a continuous deployment schedule to reach more Arkansans. 

The CALL, Little Rock ($8,000) – to purchase technology to establish online training and support groups during the pandemic for foster families and prospects, and to ensure continued communication among all participants in the foster care system. 

Boys & Girls Club of Benton County, Bentonville ($5,152) – to purchase personal protective equipment and implement more robust cleaning and sanitizing procedures.to keep its member children and staff safe. 

Holy Sews, Inc. Little Rock ($5,000) – to produce 2,500 protective cloth masks for distribution to healthcare workers, police officers, grocery store workers and nursing home employees. 

Any 501(c)(3) public charity, public school, governmental agency (city, county, state), nonprofit hospital or church in Arkansas is eligible to apply. Grants are not made to individuals. Applications must be submitted online at BlueAndYouFoundationArkansas.org. Applicants may request a grant ranging from $5,000 to $150,000. The Foundation will review applications and make funding decisions weekly. Pending grant requests will be held for consideration until final decisions are made. 

“The first phase of our crisis funding was to help Arkansans suffering from food insecurity, by providing $500,000 to three large food distributions hubs and the 17 United Way organizations in the state, as well as $150,000 to the Arkansas Community Foundation for its COVID-19 relief fund,” said Patrick O’Sullivan, executive director of the Blue & You Foundation. “We now are focusing our grants program on organizations working to help with prevention, testing and treatment of the coronavirus.” 

“As we have for more than 70 years, we’re here for Arkansans, providing critical funds for our communities,” said Curtis Barnett, Arkansas Blue Cross president and chief executive officer. “We are working closely with our customers and state agencies to monitor needs and respond.” 

DELEGATION APPLAUDS HHS FOR AWARDING OVER $45 MILLION IN ADDITIONAL CORONAVIRUS ASSISTANCE TO ARKANSAS HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS
WASHINGTON—
U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding additional federal funds to hospitals and health care providers across Arkansas to help facilitate the coronavirus response in our communities. 

The grants—totaling $45,092,991—come from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which became law with the support of the Arkansas delegation. The money was awarded to providers in Arkansas to support health care-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are pleased that HHS has continued to quickly provide much-needed aid to medical providers in Arkansas. Every provider has been impacted by this crisis and the effort to ensure that no one misses out on relief is greatly appreciated,” the delegation said.

This is the second wave of funding awarded to health care providers from the $100 billion appropriated by the CARES Act. It was distributed based on total revenue to ensure providers with a relatively small share of revenue coming from Medicare fee-for-service, such as children's hospitals, received assistance as well.

Arkansas received $326,536,043 in the first wave of funding announced earlier this month. That money was awarded directly to health care providers in the state proportionate to providers’ share of Medicare fee-for-service reimbursements in 2019. This method was used to expedite money to providers in coronavirus hotspot areas and those struggling to keep their doors open due to cancelled elective services.

 
 
 

April 29, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON PRESS CONFERENCE – APRIL 29, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened up Wednesday's press conference by acknowledging the storms that swept through parts of the state overnight Tuesday and he commended the lineman for working to restore services to more than 8,000 residents who've gone without power as a result of the severe weather. 

The Governor shifted gears to discuss economic announcements that have been highly anticipated by many business owners across Arkansas. The focus of a new sign he revealed during the update reads "Arkansas: Ready For Business."

The state's restaurant owners have officially been given the green light to begin allowing limited dine-in service as of May 11th, according to the Governor's announcement. 

Though dine-in service will be allowed for Arkansans in less than two weeks, many stipulations will be required of both restaurant staff and customers, including a group maximum of 10, and mandatory gloves and face coverings for employees. 

In addition to the restaurant update, The Governor also revealed that a $15 million grant has been approved for Arkansas businesses owners in need of covid-19 expense assistance as companies attempt to rebuild and reboot economic ventures across the state. 

Although the decisions were based made on coronavirus case numbers trending downward as of late, the number of deaths due to COVID-19 in the state has reportedly risen to 59. The total number of coronavirus cases documented in Arkansas is now 3,192 with 1,884 of those cases currently active. Montgomery was the only new county added to the list of Arkansas areas reporting COVID-19 cases. There are 93 people in the hospital due to the illness, and 18 of those patients remain on ventilators. 

Governor Hutchinson called upon Arkansas Economic Development Commission Secretary Mike Preston to elaborate on the details of the multi-mullion dollar grant announced today. Preston says the funds will differ from loan opportunities provided through the state because the grants do not require business owners to pay the funds back. The aid will also be available for all industries of the state. Be it a gym, hair salon, factory or restaurant, companies of all kinds are eligible to apply for these funds. 

The assistance is designed to offset the cost of COVID-19 related expenses and The grants will be administered by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. Applications are set to be reviewed in the order in which they are received.

Again, the number of deaths due to COVID-19 in the state has reportedly risen to 59. The total number of coronavirus cases documented in Arkansas is now 3,192 with 1,884 of those cases active. Montgomery was the newest county added to the list of Arkansas areas reporting COVID-19 cases. There are 93 people in the hospital due to the illness, 18 of whom remain on ventilators. 

We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned. 

APRIL IS CHILD ABUSE AWARENESS MONTH
While home is a safe space for many residents of Arkansas seeking protection from the spread of COVID-19, it can be a dangerous place for children facing abuse or neglect.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and a major resource for information about helping kids in need is The Children's Advocacy Center of Arkansas. The organization's Executive Director Elizabeth Pulley explained how the center can provide safe spaces for abused children, regardless of their location within Arkansas. Pulley says the organization features 17 centers across the state, and each location provides the needed resources for kids and families to receive support and necessary services.

As far as numbers go, Pulley reports that the Child abuse hotline receives more than 60,000 calls a year and she says 000

Teachers and pastors are often the ones who report concerns to the child abuse hotline. However, schools and churches have closed in response to COVID-19, and less eyes are being kept on those in need. Pulley is encouraging the public to report anything that looks suspicious and reminds you that providing your name to the hotline is not required.

If you see or hear of anything that you suspect to be abuse or neglect of a child, you can call 1.800.SAVE.A.CHILD or 1.800.482.5964. To locate a center near you, visit cacarkansas.org"

DELEGATION ANNOUNCES $4.7 MILLION IN HUD FUNDING FOR ARKANSAS
WASHINGTON—
U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for awarding Arkansas Public Housing Agencies $4.7 million in funding to support the prevention, preparation and response to the coronavirus pandemic in public housing.

“Providing these resources is necessary to supporting ongoing efforts to combat the coronavirus in Arkansas. These investments will protect the lives of vulnerable individuals in our state,” members said.

The funding is part of a nationwide disbursement in public housing operating funds allocated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which recently became law with the support of the Arkansas delegation.

Included in HUD awarded funding are the following Arkansas Public Housing Agencies:

Arkadelphia Housing Authority                                 $54,553
Camden Housing Authority                                        $252,928
Crossett Housing Authority                                        $46,161
Gurdon Housing Authority                                         $11,680
Hope Housing Authority                                            $74,712
Magnolia Housing Authority                                      $45,827
Prescott Housing Authority                                        $50,209
Rison Housing Authority                                            $21,190
Sparkman Housing Authority                                     $6,266
Star City Housing Authority                                       $19,454
Stephens Housing Authority                                       $25,182

There were a number of other Housing Authorities across the state the received awards from this funding.

April 28, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON PRESS CONFERENCE – APRIL 28, 2020
The number of Coronavirus cases in Arkansas has reached 3,111, although only 1,913 of those are considered active. This information was announced on Tuesday afternoon by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson during his COVID-19 Press Conference.  It was also reported that 52 people have died from the Coronavirus in Arkansas, and 104 people are currently hospitalized, with 20 of those patients on ventilators. A total of 1,146 people have reportedly recovered. 

Arkansans can look forward to the early phase of lifting restrictions brought on by COVID-19 across the state beginning next month. 

Governor Hutchinson announced two dates in May that have been chosen as target dates for removing limitations on state park use, along with museums and visitors centers, for example. Hutchinson says the lifting of restrictions on camping accessibility in Arkansas State Parks is set to begin as early as May 1st.

The Governor then called upon Stacy Hurst, Cabinet Secretary for the Arkansas Department of Parks Tourism to elaborate on the state park update. Hurst noted the plan is to begin lifting the restrictions gradually, and that begins with re-opening overnight use of campgrounds as early as this Friday, May 1st. However, the accessibility only extends to in-state residents, and not travelers from outside of the state.

Updates on COVID-19 based restrictions for Arkansas State Parks can be found online at the state parks website.

Again, there are now 3,111 positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Arkansas, as of Tuesday afternoon. 52 people have died from the Coronavirus in Arkansas, and 104 people are currently hospitalized, with 20 of those patients on ventilators. A total of 1,146 people have reportedly recovered from the illness. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.                    

ARKANSAS EARLY CHILDHOOD ORGANIZATIONS CALL FOR IMMEDIATE SUPPORT
Raise Alarms about Child Care Sector’s Safety and Long-Term Viability
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (April 28, 2020) – Early childhood advocates today called for immediate support to protect Arkansas’s childcare sector during and after the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, more than half of the state’s 2,000 childcare providers remain open, yet many are facing steeply declining enrollments and a persistent lack of access to cleaning supplies, medical equipment and essential food items. Without assistance, programs may be forced to close permanently, with long-term ramifications to Arkansas’s economy.

“Before the coronavirus hit, our state’s childcare providers were operating on razor thin margins,” said Jeff Dyer, executive director of the Arkansas Early Childhood Association. “If we don’t provide significant public investment and support, they may soon have to shutter their doors, leaving Arkansans out of work and families without adequate care options.”  

A 2019 report from the Committee for Economic Development showed childcare has a $702-million impact on Arkansas’s economy. In total, it supports more than 17,800 jobs, a $296.8-million payroll and 137,000 children. According to a recent survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, many of the state’s childcare centers and homes will not be able to survive COVID-19 closures. As of March 25, 33 percent of programs had lost income due to families’ inability to pay. 

In March, the Arkansas Department of Human Services increased allocations for child care providers receiving Child Care and Development Block Grant funds. Licensed programs that do not have a federal subsidy agreement have received limited relief from the state. To help child care centers and family child care homes survive, organizations including the Arkansas Advocates for Children and FamiliesArkansas Association for Infant Mental HealthArkansas Campaign for Grade-Level ReadingArkansas Chapter, American Academy of PediatricsArkansas Early Childhood AssociationCommunities UnlimitedForwARd Arkansas; and HOPE Credit Union are calling for the state to:

●      Coordinate access to limited Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) and Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS)-required supplies (e.g., cleaning products, thermometers) to keep workers and the children they serve safe 

●      Ease the process for programs to purchase essential food items at grocery stores

●      Support existing programs instead of encouraging pop-up childcare in the private industry

●      Provide financial supports to licensed providers to meet current ADH/DHS guidelines on group size and/or reductions in enrollment 

●      Implement a grant or loan program, to be managed by Community Development Financial Institutions, with $10,000 available per licensed provider to reopen or meet shortfalls caused by drops in attendance.
 

AGHERITAGE FARM CREDIT SERVICES AWARDS SCHOLARSHIPS TO 11 ARKANSAS STUDENTS FROM ACROSS THE STATE AgHeritage Farm Credit Services is proud to invest annually in the next generation through our scholarship program, by investing in their education. This year, 11 scholarships are being presented – nine $1000 Customer Scholarships, one $1,000 University Scholarship and one $1,000 Ken Shea Memorial Scholarship. The 2020 recipients of the scholarships are as follows:

Customer Scholarship Program: The nine students receiving $1,000 Customer Scholarships from AgHeritage Farm Credit Services are: Landon Sandage of The Baptist Preparatory School, Ella Marek of Stuttgart High School, Katherine Newman of Salem (homeschooled), Lindsey Tilley of Rison High School, Kody Boatright of Beekman Charter School, Madison Walker of Tuckerman High School, Jessica Honey of Pocahontas, (homeschooled), Noralee Townsend of Rose Bud High School and Raife Burrow of McCrory High School.

The Customer Scholarship Program, which was established in 2001, is open to dependent children and grandchildren of AgHeritage Farm Credit Services stockholder customers.  Recipients were chosen for their outstanding academic performance and school-related extracurricular activities.

Ken Shea Memorial Scholarship: Jalyn White of Hamburg High School is the recipient of the $1,000 Ken Shea Memorial Scholarship. The Ken Shea Memorial Scholarship is open to dependent children and grandchildren of AgHeritage Farm Credit Services Southern Region stockholder customers. This year’s recipient was chosen for her outstanding academic performance and school-related extracurricular activities.  

University Scholarship Program: Skyler Boyle, a graduate of Jonesboro High School currently attending University of Arkansas at Monticello, is being awarded the $1,000 University Scholarship. The University Scholarship Program is open to any current college student studying agriculture at an Arkansas university or college.  Applicants do not need to be a customer.

AgHeritage Farm Credit Services is a financial cooperative with owned and managed assets of approximately $1.52 billion as of December 31, 2019. The company provides credit and related services to more than 3,100 farmers, ranchers and producers or harvesters of aquatic products in 24 Arkansas counties. 

Branch offices are located in Batesville, Brinkley, Lonoke, McGehee, Newport, Pine Bluff, Pocahontas, Searcy and Stuttgart.

 

Radio Works – Y95, 95.3, K97, Fox Sports 97.1, News Talk, 92.7 and Magic 104.5 to Broadcast “Radio Cares: Feeding America Emergency Radiothon” One-Day Fundraiser to Fight Hunger in the U.S. on Thursday, April 30th. Listeners May Donate NOW to the Feeding America Emergency Radiothon at www.RadioCares.org or Text “Feed” to 95819 to Donate

Radio Works has announced that it will broadcast the “Radio Cares: Feeding America Emergency Radiothon”, a one-day fundraising event on Thursday, April 30th, benefiting Feeding America, the largest hunger relief organization in the U.S. All funds raised will go directly to Feeding America to support its 200-member network of local food banks across the U.S., including the Ruby Snyder Center, Maul Road Church of Christ, First Methodist and Fairview Methodist food banks located right here in Camden. The “Radio Cares: Feeding America Emergency Radiothon” will air on Y95, 95.3, K97, Fox Sports 97.1, News Talk, 92.7 and Magic 104.5 this Thursday from 12:00 am until 11:59 pm. To donate to help fight hunger in America, please visit: www.radiocares.org or text “Feed” to 95819. All donations go directly to Feeding America for their distribution to local food banks.

Feeding America established the COVID-19 Response Fund on March 13th. Since then, Feeding America has distributed $112.4 million and over 94 million pounds of food to food banks across the U.S., helping provide nearly 79 million meals to people facing hunger. Feeding America announced earlier this month that an estimated $1.4 billion in additional resources will be needed over the next six months to sustain operations and continue to provide food for people struggling with hunger—a 30% increase to the baseline six-month operating costs of its 200 member food banks nationwide. U.N. experts foresee a second pandemic on track to follow COVID-19 – a global hunger pandemic. Now, more than ever, U.S. food banks need cash donations to continue to meet the needs of the growing number of people struggling to feed themselves and their families.

Radio Works will be talking abour RadioCares through Sunday. You can donate at anytime to help feed the hungry.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit www.RadioCares.org.


ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: ILLEGAL PONZI SCHEMES WILL ONLY STEAL ARKANSAN’S HARD-EARNED MONEY
Rutledge says, ‘If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is’
LITTLE ROCK – The COVID pandemic has sparked concern about more than just your personal health. It has created economic hardships for many Arkansans. As many seek to ensure they can pay their bills, illegal Ponzi schemes disguised as goodwill gestures such as so-called “Blessing Looms” are freely shared on social media that will ultimately steal money from those who fall prey.

“If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Blessing looms scams and other Ponzi schemes will ask for you to pay a small amount of money in order to receive a large payout as more people participate. I want every Arkansan to be aware of these schemes so they can keep their hard-earned savings in their wallets.”

Scammers use the “Blessing Looms” scam by posting it on social media and ask unwary readers to pay an entry fee (e.g., $100) with the promise that, as more people pay to build the pot of money by paying the entry fee, the participant will also get a payout (as much as $800) of that money. The surest way to identify these scams is if they promise large payouts in return for small investments, if they tell factually unsupported “success stories” of happy customers, or if they explain that future results rely on bringing in new participants to the scheme.

Attorney General Rutledge has identified several tips for Arkansans to use in protecting themselves against Ponzi schemes:

If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Know that large sums of money generally do not result from small investments.

Consult the terms of use for Facebook and other social media platforms and report such scams as these platforms may prohibit schemes like this one.
Safeguard banking and financial information in order to prevent theft due to scams.

When using the internet, ensure that you are using a verified, secure, and encrypted website when sharing any personal or financial information online. Instead of clicking embedded links, consider typing the company’s actual URL website address in the search bar.

Do not disclose personal information to an unknown person online because it could result in identity theft or the opening of other accounts in their name.

For more information, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or oag@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
 

SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME RECIPIENTS, ACT NOW – GO TO IRS.GOV – A MESSAGE FROM SOCIAL SECURITY COMMISSIONER ANDREW SAUL
Action Needed for People Receiving SSI with Dependents and Who Do Not File Tax Returns to Receive $500 Per Child Payment
“Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients who don’t file tax returns will start receiving their automatic Economic Impact Payments directly from the Treasury Department in early May.  People receiving SSI benefits who did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes, and have qualifying children under age 17, however, should not wait for their automatic $1,200 individual payment.  They should immediately go to the IRS’s webpage at www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here and visit the Non-Filers: Enter Your Information section to provide their information.  SSI recipients who have dependent children and did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes need to act by Tuesday, May 5, in order to receive additional payments for their eligible children quickly.  

By taking this proactive step to enter information on the IRS website about them and their qualifying children, they will also receive the $500 per dependent child payment in addition to their $1,200 individual payment.  If people in this group do not provide their information to the IRS soon, their payment at this time will be $1,200 only.  They would then be required to file a tax year 2020 tax return to obtain the additional $500 per eligible child.

I urge SSI recipients with qualifying children and who do not normally file taxes to take action now.  Immediately go to IRS.gov so that you will receive the full amount of the Economic Impact Payments you and your family are eligible for.

Lastly, a word of caution.  Be aware of scams related to the Economic Impact Payments. There is no fee required to receive these payments.  Don’t be fooled.

Visit the agency’s COVID-19 web page at www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/ for important information and updates.”

Click here to view the IRS press release about this important issue.
 

REMINDER: 2020 ARKANSAS CENTURY FARM APPLICATIONS DUE MAY 31
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Department) is now accepting applications for the 2020 Arkansas Century Farm program. This program recognizes Arkansas families who have owned and farmed the same land for at least 100 years. Online and printable applications are available here: https://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansas-century-farm-program. There is no cost to apply.

“Arkansas Century Farm families have persevered challenges for at least ten decades and have contributed greatly in making Arkansas agriculture the success story that it is today,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “As Arkansas’s largest industry, agriculture has an economic impact of over $21 billion annually and provides one of every six jobs in the state.”

To qualify, Arkansas farms must meet the following criteria:

•The same family must have owned the farm for 100 years by Dec. 31, 2020. The line of ownership from the original settler or buyer may be through children, grandchildren, siblings, and nephews or nieces, including through marriage and adoption.

•The farm must be at least ten acres of the original land acquisition and make a financial contribution to the overall farm income.

Arkansas is home to more than 42,500 farms, of which 97 percent are family owned and operated. Since the Arkansas Century Farm program began in 2012, 464 farms have been certified. Find lists of previously inducted Arkansas Century Farm families https://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansascentury-farm-program.

Contact Mary Elizabeth Lea at 501-219-6363 or maryelizabeth.lea@agriculture.arkansas.gov with questions. Applications must be postmarked on or before May 31, 2020 to be eligible for designation as a 2020 inductee.

The Department is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

 
 

April 27, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON PRESS CONFERENCE – APRIL 17, 2020
The total number of deaths due to the coronavirus in the state of Arkansas has now reached 50. This information was announced by Governor Asa Hutchison and Dr. Nathaniel Smith during the most recent COVID-19 press conference on Monday afternoon.

The newest details regarding coronavirus case numbers were revealed to show a decline in recent trends. Arkansas had previously reported more than 100 new COVID-19 cases each day for nearly a week straight before Monday's new report was announced at 76 cases.

Now, the total number of positive coronavirus cases in Arkansas has reached 3,017 with 109 currently hospitalized and 25 of those patients utilizing ventilators. Though the state death toll has hit 50, there are no new counties reporting cases, and 856 of the cases reported are sourced from the Cummins Unit Prison Facility in Lincoln county.

The Governor Provided the public with graphs that explained the numbers of cases in greater detail and displayed the trends in COVID-19 cases. Hutchinson explained that certain criteria must be met for at least 2 weeks before lifting restrictions and reopening the state's closed businesses in phases. 

The Governor previously stated that he will make a decision later this week about the possibility of permitting restaurants, gyms and beauty salons to re-open on May 4th.   

Later this week, The Governor will also be providing more numbers from the state's recent testing surge held Friday and Saturday.

Again, the total number of coronavirus cases in Arkansas has now reached 3,017 with 109 hospitalized and 25 of those patients on a ventilator. There are also 50 people who have now died from COVID-19 in Arkansas. We'll continue to keep you updated. Stay tuned. 

 

PPP PORTAL OPENS AT 9:30 AM CENTRAL TIME ON MONDAY APRIL 27TH
Stimulus Help on the Way
The Small Business Administration resumed accepting Paycheck Protection Program loan applications Monday morning from approved lenders on behalf of any eligible borrower. This will ensure that SBA has properly coded the system to account for changes made by the recent legislation. Congress agreed last week to pump more money into the Paycheck Protection Program after the initial funding ran dry in two weeks.

Small businesses can apply through any existing SBA lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, Farm Credit System, or non-bank lending institution that is participating. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.

Meanwhile, the Internal Revenue Service says that the direct deposit processing of stimulus checks paid out to individuals is mostly done. Beginning this week, the tax agency says it will mail checks on a weekly basis to all other individuals who are eligible to receive the coronavirus stimulus checks. As for the wait: it could be September before all checks are delivered via mail.

The IRS has said that it will first deliver paper checks to the lowest earners who are eligible, and the agency estimates it will mail about five million checks each week until all who qualify receive the federal aid that’s intended to stimulate the economy.

To learn more about the Paycheck Protection Program or to download an applicaiton please visit https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program

Find a lender near you at https://www.sba.gov/paycheckprotection/find  or see a list of Arkansas Lenders at https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/files/Lender-List-v1.pdf 
 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE – APRIL 26, 2020
The number of positive coronavirus cases in Arkansas stood at 2,938 as of Sunday afternoon, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. The death toll is at 48. The number of hospitalizations stands at 104. In the last press conference held on Saturday afternoon, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson says the state is confident in its capability of managing the hospital patients that we have now and into the future. With 104 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, the Governor says the state is beating the projection of 2,000 hospitalizations estimated at this time back on April 8th by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

"Saturday completed the two-day testing Surge Campaign that Governor Hutchinson announced on Thursday, with the aim of driving up the number of coronavirus tests in the state. The Governor said that he was delighted with the response by the public in terms of seeking that test. People displaying COVID-19 symptoms should continue to seek testing:"

"Much of Saturday's press conference addressed graduations. The Governor announced that there will be no traditional high school graduation ceremonies in the state before July 1st. Education Secretary Johnny Key acknowledged that the traditional graduation celebrations are highly anticipated events, but the risk is still too great to plan large gatherings:"

"Secretary Key says the state would allow schools to put together nontraditional celebrations, possibly by digital or video means. Secretary Key says the state will begin accepting proposals from school districts this week to evaluate their nontraditional graduation celebration ideas. However, the preference is to wait until after July 1st:"

"Again, there are 2,938 positive cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas as of Sunday afternoon. Around the local area, the Arkansas Department of Health is reporting that Ouachita County has five positive cases with five recoveries. Union County has 32 positive cases, with 16 recoveries. Calhoun County is one of only three counties in the state to not have any reported positive coronavirus cases. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned."

COURT SCHEDULE UPDATE
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court of Arkansas delivered per curiam orders on March 17, March 20, and April 3, 2020, implementing emergency precautions to help protect the public from unnecessary risks. See In re Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020 Ark. 116 (per curiam); In. re Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020 Ark. 125 (per curiam); In re Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020 Ark. 132 (per curiam).

On April 16, President Donald Trump released Guidelines for Opening Up America Again to help guide state and local officials when reopening their locations. Today, we announce additional measures to combat the spread of the disease to the public, including the employees of the Arkansas judiciary.

The courts of the State of Arkansas shall remain open. The previous suspension of all in-person proceedings in all appellate, circuit, and district courts shall be extended through May 15, 2020, and may be extended by this court as circumstances warrant. All previously announced suspensions and extensions from the court's earlier responses to the COVID-19 pandemic remain in effect until further notice.

The excepted proceedings listed in the March 1 7 per curiam, In. re Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020 Ark. 116 (" emergency proceedings"), should continue to be held but only occur in-person if holding the proceeding remotely is not possible or feasible. If emergency proceedings must be held in-person, the court should ensure that (1) no more than 10 persons are gathered in the courtroom or in areas around the courtroom; (2) participants wear face coverings where possible; and (3) participants in the courtroom are separated consistent with social-distancing guidelines and other precautions.

Non-­emergency proceedings should not be held in-person. With the ready availability of video conferencing and teleconferencing technologies, most proceedings can be conducted remotely. There are no limitations on those remote proceedings so long as reasonable notice and access is provided to the participants and the public. Judges shall remain mindful that certain portions of hearings may be inappropriate for livestreaming to the public just as they would be inappropriate for public access in a physical courtroom.

This Order is to be interpreted broadly for protection of the public from the risks associated with COVID-19. This Order applies statewide to all courts and court clerks' offices except administrative courts of the executive branch, federal courts, and federal court clerks' offices in Arkansas.
 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON DECLARES 11 COUNTIES DISASTERS AFTER APRIL 12 TORNADOES, STORMS
LITTLE ROCK
 – Governor Asa Hutchinson has declared 11 counties disaster areas in the wake of severe storms and tornadoes on April 12, 2020. The eleven counties are Arkansas, Bradley, Cleveland, Dallas, Drew, Grant, Hot Spring, Jefferson, Lincoln, Ouachita, and Phillips.

Under the emergency executive powers vested in the governor by Arkansas Code Annotated §§ 12-75-101, the declaration suspends certain procedures and regulations so that state departments and agencies and the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management can render rapid and orderly assistance to the counties.

Governor Hutchinson signed the declaration on April 23, 2020. You can find the disaster declaration, DR 20-09, HERE

BLUE & YOU FOUNDATION AWARDS FIRST RAPID-RESPONSE COVID-19 RELIEF PROGRAM GRANTS; STILL TAKING APPLICATIONS
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (April 24, 2020)
– The Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas has awarded the first 10 grants in its Rapid-Response COVID-19 Relief program, which will provide up to $1.7 million in grants to organizations in Arkansas working to prevent the spread of the virus or helping communities deal with its consequences. Rapid-Response COVID-19 Relief grants were awarded to:

* University of Arkansas Foundation, Inc. (UAMS), Little Rock ($150,000) – to help secure personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves, gowns and masks, as well as thermometers; to dispatch mobile screening, testing and population monitoring to rural communities; and to provide timely, accurate education and information to employees, patients and the public.

* Jefferson Hospital Association, Pine Bluff ($122,093) – to help Jefferson Regional Medical Center provide rapid COVID-19 testing to 1,500 at-risk individuals and provide 94 pulse oximeters for patients testing positive in the southeastern counties of the state.

* Northeast Arkansas Children’s Advocacy Center, Jonesboro ($20,000) – to provide emergency relief to victims of physical or sexual abuse through the purchase of PPE supplies; mental health therapist salaries; cleaning supplies; food; clothing and blankets for children; and gas cards for families traveling to the center for help.

* Oasis of Northwest Arkansas, Bella Vista ($15,000) – to expand transitional living services to meet the increased demand in the state for housing and job training for the vulnerable in recovery from substance abuse or domestic violence.

* Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas, Little Rock ($15,000) – to help pay for meal bags and hygiene items to be delivered daily to families of children inNeonatal Intensive Care Units in local hospitals.

* Boys & Girls Club of the Arkansas River Valley, Russellville ($10,000) – to provide health, hygiene and educational materials to low-income, at-risk youth by distributing packets to community residents.

* Paragould School District, Paragould ($9,000) – to provide nutritious food backpacks to students weekly and supply at-risk students with needed school supplies as they continue learning using alternate methods of instruction.

* Family Violence Prevention, Batesville ($5,000) – to purchase emergency essentials such as cleaning supplies, gloves, masks, storage bags, food, thermometers and baby wipes to provide safe services to domestic violence victims during the pandemic.

* Fort Smith Children’s Emergency Shelter, Fort Smith ($5,000) – to assist with the budget for food, cleaning supplies and health-related needs of the children served by the shelter.

* Great River Charitable Clinic, Blytheville ($5,000) – to expand primary care and prescription coverage by telemedicine for patients of the clinic in Mississippi County.

Any 501(c)(3) public charity, public school, governmental agency (city, county, state), nonprofit hospital or church in Arkansas is eligible to apply. Grants are not made to individuals. Applications must be submitted online at www.BlueAndYouFoundationArkansas.org. Applying organizations may request a grant ranging from $5,000 to $150,000. The Foundation will review applications and make funding decisions weekly. Grants not approved immediately each week will be held for consideration for funding in later weeks.

The Blue & You Foundation also recently donated a total of $500,000 to three food distribution hubs and 17 United Way organizations to address food insecurity statewide, as well as $150,000 to the Arkansas Community Foundation for its COVID-19 relief fund.

“The Blue & You Foundation recognizes the tremendous health, economic and social needs created by the coronavirus pandemic, and we want to help eligible organizations lessen the consequences of the virus on the individuals, families and communities they serve,” said Patrick O’Sullivan, executive director of the Blue & You Foundation.

“Whether from our own personal experiences or from what we see and hear in the news each day, it’s clear that the coronavirus pandemic has become not just a public health crisis but also an economic and social crisis that’s impacting every part of our lives,” said Curtis Barnett, Arkansas Blue Cross president and CEO. “As we have for more than 70 years, we’re here for Arkansans, providing critical funds for our communities. We are working closely with our customers and state agencies to monitor needs and respond.”

CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION DELIVERS FEDERAL FUNDS TO FIGHT CORONAVIRUS IN ARKANSAS
WASHINGTON—
U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applaud the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding $10.6 million in federal funds to support rural communities and further develop testing and prevention capabilities to combat the coronavirus crisis in Arkansas.

“Communities and medical providers across the state will benefit from these resources as we continue to fight the coronavirus and look toward a future of resuming daily activities,” members said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will provide $6,894,830 to Arkansas that will allow expanded testing, enhanced contact tracing and implementation of containment measures so citizens can soon participate in increased economic activities.

The Arkansas Department of Health will receive $2,866,778 to support rural communities in their fight against the coronavirus. The funding provides rural hospitals the ability to respond to the unique needs of the community while boosting testing and laboratory services and the availability of personal protective equipment to minimize exposure to the disease.

The University of Arkansas System is the recipient of $828,571 to support its Telehealth Resource Center (TRC). The resource center provides telehealth interaction with patients and health providers to rural and underserved communities in the state.

The crucial funding for these programs comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which became law last month with the support of the Arkansas delegation.

 
 
 

APRIL 24, 2020

DELEGATION APPLAUDS DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION FOR AWARDING OVER $128 MILLION IN CORONAVIRUS ASSISTANCE FOR ARKANSAS K-12 STUDENTS

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Education for awarding emergency relief funds to support continued learning for K-12 students in Arkansas whose educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus crisis.  

The funding—totaling $128,758,638—will be released to the Arkansas Department of Education.  

It is part of a nationwide disbursement of more than $13.2 billion in emergency funds allocated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which recently became law with the support of the Arkansas delegation.  

In total, the CARES Act allocates nearly $31 billion to the Department to Education to distribute to students, K-12 schools and higher education institutions. 

Education leaders will have the flexibility to use this money for immediate needs, such as tools and resources for distance education, ensuring student health and safety, and developing and implementing plans for the next school year.

“The closure of all public schools in Arkansas for the remainder of the school year is one of the biggest disruptions to everyday life the coronavirus crisis has brought upon families in our state. This funding from the CARES Act will help the state overcome some of the challenges our educators, students and parents are facing as a result,” the delegation said.

APRIL 23, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – APRIL 23, 2020
 As of Thursday afternoon, there are now 2,465 positive coronavirus cases in Arkansas, that's an increase of 189 positive cases over the past 24 hours. 101 COVID-19 patients are now hospitalized, with 24 of those patients currently on a ventilator. The death toll due to the coronavirus now stands at 45 in Arkansas. Of those 189 additional positive cases in the past 24-hour period, 122 are from the Cummins federal prison in Lincoln County. In that maximum security facility, 687 inmates and 35 staff members have now tested positive with COVID-19. 

During the next two days, Governor Asa Hutchinson says that the Arkansas Surge Campaign will take place. The Governor hopes to increase COVID-19 testing during the next two days from an average of 1,000 tests per day to 1,500 tests per day.

Governor Hutchinson adds that there is no requirement to pay to be tested. Medical personnel will take insurance information for possible reimbursement. However, you aren't required to have insurance to receive a free COVID-19 test either.

The Governor recently established a COVID-19 Testing Task Force. That task force has met, and the Governor outlined four testing strategies identified by the task force that the state will implement moving forward:"

Again, Arkansans who have COVID-19 symptoms are encouraged to be tested for the coronavirus over the next two days in what is being called the Arkansas Surge Campaign. It is hoped that more than 1,500 Arkansans will be tested each day Friday and Saturday.

We'll keep you updated. Stay tuned."
 

RUTLEDGE BRINGS 3,000 FACEMASKS TO ARKANSAS LAW ENFORCEMENT AND FIRST RESPONDERS
LITTLE ROCK
 – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced Sherwin-Williams will donate 3,000 N95 facemasks to law enforcement and first responders in the State of Arkansas. At the Attorney General’s request, the personal protective equipment (PPE) will be allocated to the Association of Arkansas Counties and the Arkansas Municipal League who will disperse them at the local level.

“Arkansas law enforcement and first responders already work in high-risk environments and with this health crisis it is even more important for us to use every resource to protect those who protect us,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Thank you to Sherwin-Williams for recognizing the needs of our law enforcement officers and first responders. In the future I hope more businesses will be in a position to work with our State and local leaders to protect all of those who protect us.”

“Sherwin-Williams salutes Arkansas law enforcement and first responders who remain committed to protecting and supporting their communities during this health crisis. We’re pleased to donate protective masks at this challenging time, and we thank Attorney General Rutledge for her efforts in rapidly distributing this critical equipment to those with the greatest need,” said Jim Jaye, SVP Corporate Communications at Sherwin-Williams. “We also thank our employees, who every day, make it possible for Sherwin-Williams to continue supporting communities across the country.”

Since the COVID19 public health emergency declaration on March 11, Rutledge has allocated $1 million to the State to acquire personal protective equipment for medical personnel and $3 million to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Quick Action Loan Program for small businesses. Rutledge has worked with Walmart, Amazon, eBay and Facebook to combat price gouging and the Attorney General’s Office has received over 12,000 phone calls on price gouging.

Arkansans needing to report price gouging or scams should visit the Attorney General’s Office at ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.

 

UPDATES FROM THE SAU ASBTDC (04/22/2020)
Commercial Contracts
While fact-specific to any particular contract, the outbreak of COVID-19 is likely to have a profound impact on commercial agreements. Companies may find they are unable to perform under an existing commercial agreement. Parties to existing contracts that are or may be disrupted by the outbreak should promptly assess their legal rights and obligations, including:

  *   Assessing contractual provisions that have been or may be affected,

  *   Identifying and abiding by relevant notice requirements;

  *   Analyzing the risks and consequences of a default or breach under the agreement, and

  *   Determining or negotiating alternative means of performance under the contract, where possible

If you cannot perform a contract, look for the following verbiage within the contract:

  *   Notice Requirements-You may be required to notify the other party by a certain time and in a certain manner (written, verbal, etc.) to void the contract or extend the terms

  *   Force Majeure Clause--A contractual provision which excuses one or both parties' performance obligations when circumstances arise which are beyond the parties' control and make performance of the contract impractical or impossible. Talk to an attorney to help you determine if you can void a contract due to COVID-19. Not all clauses are the same.

  *   Material Adverse Change Provision--May allow a party to walk away from the transaction where there has been (or reasonably likely to have) an event or circumstance that would be materially adverse to the business, results of operation or financial condition of the target company and its subsidiaries following the signing date. Talk to an attorney to determine if your contract can be voided per this provision. Not all provisions are the same.

  *   Rent generally does not follow the same rules as other commercial contracts. Talk to your landlord to see what options they might be able to offer you (i.e. short-term rental relief, blend and extend lease extension, propose to pay only CAM or operating expenses, etc.). Talk to an attorney for questions regarding your lease contract.

Business Interruption Insurance
Companies should consider whether insurance may cover losses sustained from COVID-19 related disruptions. This coverage may apply to commercial properties that sustain disruptions to their operations, trade disruption for losses related to quarantines or other travel restrictions and closures, or general liability insurance.

Human Resources Update
On April 18th, the U.S. Department of Labor ends temporary non-enforcement of paid leave protections to help American workers during the Coronavirus pandemic. Further review indicates that employers with less than 50 employees have a narrow exemption to only portions of the act.

Question: How do employers qualify for the small business exemption from Paid Sick Leave (PSL) and FMLA+?
Answer: Employers with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for an exemption if doing so would "jeopardize the viability of the business" as a going concern. This small business exemption only provides an exemption to employers as to leave requested to care for a child because a child's school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons.  A small business may claim this if an authorized officer of the business determines that:

  *   Leave would cause expenses and financial obligations to exceed available business revenue and cause the small employer to cease operating at a minimal capacity;

  *   The absence of the employee requesting leave would pose a substantial risk to the specialized skills, knowledge of the business, or responsibilities; or

  *   The small employer cannot find enough other workers who are able, willing, and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services the employee requesting leave provides, and these labor services are needed for the employer to operate at a minimal capacity.

FMLA+ requests would be subject to the exemption but only PSL requests

FMLA+ relating to the need to care for a child for the above reasons

FMLA+ would be subject to the exemption. There is no application or

FMLA+ submission process for this exemption, but employers must keep

FMLA+ sufficient records for their own files when assessing the

FMLA+ applicable criteria. Read the Act

FMLA+ Here.<https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-pai

FMLA+ d-leave>

The required Department of Labor posting can be located for printing at https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/posters/FFCRA_Poster_WH1422_Non-Federal.pdf

SBA Paycheck Protection Program
The Senate has passed a package that will replenish the depleted loan funds at SBA. The package contains $310 billion for PPP ($60 billion of which is set-aside for smaller lenders, credit unions, community banks, CDFIs). The House will vote Thursday. If it passes, we anticipate the applications to re-open on Friday. Contact your lender to get started on the application ASAP! Some lenders are already taking new applications.

For those who have already applied for or received funds from the Paycheck Protection Program

*       If you are unsure that you will be approved, contact your bank loan officer and request the SBA Approval Number for your loan application. If they do not have this number, your application was not accepted by the SBA and you are not in line for funding.

*       Receipt of Loan Funds Consultant Recommendations

*       If possible, set up a new bank account to receive and disburse PPP funds

*       Track valid disbursements via a spreadsheet that categorizes according to use (payroll, interest, rent, utilities, etc.)

*       Keep all supporting documents together

*       Allowable Uses of Funds - Discuss with your accountant

*       Payroll Costs

Salary, wages, commissions, or similar comp ?  Cash tips or equivalent ?  Payment for vacation, parental, family, medial, or sick leave ?  Allowance for dismissal or separation ?  Payment for employer portion of employee health insurance ?  Payment for employer portion of retirement ?  Payment of state or local tax assessed on employee compensation (SUTA)

*       Costs related to the continuation of group health care benefits during periods of sick, medical, or family leave, and insurance premiums

*       Mortgage interest, as long as the mortgage was signed before 2/15/2020

*       Rent, as long as the lease agreement was in effect before 2/15/2020

*       Utilities, including the payment for the distribution of electricity, gas, water, transportation, telephone, or internet access for service that began before 2/15/2020

*       Payroll costs DO NOT include-Discuss with your accountant

Compensation for any employee whose principal residence is outside the US ?  Compensation of an individual employee above an annual salary of $100k, prorated if necessary (no more than $15,385 per individual for the 8 weeks) ?  Employer's share of FICA ?  Qualified sick and family leave wages for which a credit is allowed under Section 7001 and 7003 of the CARES Act

*       Covered Period

*       PPP loan covered period definition-period beginning on 2/15/2020 and ending on 6/30/2020

*       Loan forgiveness covered period definition-8-week period beginning on the date of receipt of the loan proceeds

*       How Much Can Be Forgiven?

*       Borrower will not be responsible for any loan payment if all proceeds are used for forgivable purposes and employee headcount and compensation levels are maintained

 At least 75% of the loan proceeds must be used for payroll costs, while only 25% or less may be used for other allowable expenses ?  SBA interim guidance indicated if payroll costs are not maintained, increased payments to other qualified costs such as rent, utilities, etc. will not be forgiven above 25%

*       Applying for Loan Forgiveness

*       Applications for forgiveness will be processed by your lender-contact your lender for instructions on how and when to apply

*       Lender has 60 days from submission to provide a response

*       Required Documents

*       General documents you should expect to have to provide

Documents to verify FTEs on payroll and their pay rates ?  Payroll tax reports (941s or reports from payroll provider) ?  Documents to verify retirement and health insurance contributions ?  Documents to verify eligible interest, rent, and utility payments (canceled checks, receipts, etc.) ?  Talk to your lender about other documents that might be required.

  *   Recordkeeping is CRITICAL. Accurate bookkeeping and record retention will be critical for loan forgiveness. Your lender will likely require documents in digital format.

As the PPP shifts from loan applications to the use of loan funds and forgiveness calculations, we expect further guidance and clarification on numerous points from the SBA. This additional guidance may impact and/or alter current guidance. A borrower should check the SBA's website for additional notices posted concerning the PPP program.

My PPP Has Been Approved, Now What Webinar - https://youtu.be/PlqqnUG-BDU
 SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Advance The Senate has passed a package that will replenish the depleted loan funds at SBA. The package contains $50 billion for SBA's EIDL program, which will support $350 billion in disaster loans and an additional $10 billion for the EIDL emergency grants program.  The House will vote Thursday. If it passes, we anticipate the applications to re-open on Friday. Gather your information including 2019 total gross (before expenses) revenue, Cost of goods sold (NOT your total expenses and only fill in this number only if you report cost of goods sold on your tax returns), and Business Tax ID Number (EIN). If you have further questions, contact us!

For EIDL Loan and Advance Program questions or assistance please call the SBA Disaster Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or, for the deaf and hard-of-hearing 1-800-877-8339 (Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Time) or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov<mailto:disastercustomerservice@sba.gov>. The District Office and ASBTDC have no visibility on the status of EIDL Loans.


SBA Express Bridge Loans
The Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program<https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/sba-express-bridge-loans> allows small businesses that have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork. If a small business has an urgent need for cash while waiting for a decision and disbursement on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, it may qualify for an SBA Express Disaster Bridge Loan. You'll find an Express Bridge Loan Lender via SBA's Lender Match Tool<http://www.sba.gov/LenderMatch> or by connecting to the Little Rock District Office of the SBA<https://www.sba.gov/offices/district/ar/little-rock>.

SBA Debt Relief
As part of SBA Debt Relief<https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/sba-debt-relief> efforts, The SBA will automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of current 7(a), 504, and microloans for six months. The SBA will also automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of new 7(a), 504, and microloans issued before September 27, 2020.

SBA Loan Reference Guide: https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/articles/FY_2019_LoanQuickReference.pdf

Consultant Notes: If you are interested in applying for an SBA 7(a), 504, or microloan, please contact us for information on what may be required for these. These are NOT the same as applying for the Disaster Relief programs (EIDL, PPP, etc.).

Another Word on Fraud
The National Cyber Security Alliance and partners are hosting a free webinar and will break down some of the most common COVID-19 scams they are seeing today and will provide attendees with tips and resources they can use to avoid these scams. Register at the link below.

How to Avoid COVID-19 Scams
Register Here - Tuesday, May 5<https://staysafeonline.org/event/how-to-avoid-covid-19-scams-may-5-2020/>

Webinars and Resources
ASBTDC Webinars
Recordings of webinars from the ASBTDC COVID-19 "Keep Calm and Small Business On" series will be available on this YouTube playlist. This includes webinars about the EIDL and PPP programs: COVID-19 Webinars<https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLfRRto7FvXoYDI86wAKJU_WQ8r5ihZFiL>

Strategic Partnerships: Non-Profits, For-Profits, and Recovering from COVID-19 Register Here - Thursday, April 23<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001Omn4mwwt4-ShUUDOTzeN7k6StTxaGaEjao9MkOS2z9iMBFSOPWvW_WBAN9bRBU_Bbx2I-0zTpV0Tph-TgteW0HT5U2YNdHG_wWJRymj2gwiLTEnulBpreMn44XwjSxUOcDJdr-QHJv-6p1Rietjq92aKRfbEekA5iXDSTvtl6-JPKtx7nJ_BJQ==&c=Yj2mPchRlvZda93dZ0DO0rHj2B5CsLWY7dIaeokrF8XWrdvnS0x4eg==&ch=j-382LLwj-ZWnCuLijv3FEkGexjsb6nQ7uEGgA0pHmg1wCSkI7X8uQ==>, 11:00 a.m.

Leading a Team From Your Living Room
Register Here - Tuesday, April 28<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001Omn4mwwt4-ShUUDOTzeN7k6StTxaGaEjao9MkOS2z9iMBFSOPWvW_WBAN9bRBU_By5A0P2TGy4TPsRA-Qa22QPa3GSa7M5omjmfXoC6ronAtV7-O7FeuCZ33BGGF7dpz7hanvTjWGQqgIwDojFfi23iYLbGwaUemRRe9c5FdwDWqouPjcZTAYA==&c=Yj2mPchRlvZda93dZ0DO0rHj2B5CsLWY7dIaeokrF8XWrdvnS0x4eg==&ch=j-382LLwj-ZWnCuLijv3FEkGexjsb6nQ7uEGgA0pHmg1wCSkI7X8uQ==>, 10:00 a.m.

Rebuild Your Business
Register Here - Wednesday, April 29<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001Omn4mwwt4-ShUUDOTzeN7k6StTxaGaEjao9MkOS2z9iMBFSOPWvW_WBAN9bRBU_BsHsRK25eUVsdTPFQcLZlwwYd_ncHjBVeSCmoUKaS3GSWlTyfu-qvuJPkX4B-IEtDKGEvdOJ4mkdfH9D-Fq46fh7TppavzjmM-UAOD6GJUW9vaZiCPUJ9jg==&c=Yj2mPchRlvZda93dZ0DO0rHj2B5CsLWY7dIaeokrF8XWrdvnS0x4eg==&ch=j-382LLwj-ZWnCuLijv3FEkGexjsb6nQ7uEGgA0pHmg1wCSkI7X8uQ==>, 2:00 p.m.

You Can Design Your Own Social Graphics...For Real Register Here - Thursday, April 30<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001Omn4mwwt4-ShUUDOTzeN7k6StTxaGaEjao9MkOS2z9iMBFSOPWvW_WBAN9bRBU_BGIeUOgONbmJslRoNvcugV0YIxLkWIWZxU4wseWG23E87tK-iS_eXGZoc7NU4oHb9m3dPUUKpOjRRaxCRG1MAs4_l-CXc_lVwv7mCNAZPWBXp6pehJIkh_w==&c=Yj2mPchRlvZda93dZ0DO0rHj2B5CsLWY7dIaeokrF8XWrdvnS0x4eg==&ch=j-382LLwj-ZWnCuLijv3FEkGexjsb6nQ7uEGgA0pHmg1wCSkI7X8uQ==>, 10:00 a.m.

How to Avoid COVID-19 Scams
Register Here - Tuesday, May 5<https://staysafeonline.org/event/how-to-avoid-covid-19-scams-may-5-2020/>

SBA Coronavirus Pandemic Disaster Loans Comparison Tool This guide is a courtesy tool of America's SBDC. Use it to determine which programs best meet the capital needs of your business. Refer to it regularly for updates. Get the guide here.<https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/12xv4xcsg_9xoVeEE_Y1j2sicNbCvl2GAVinSowU2zgg/edit#gid=702828758>


COTTON STATEMENT ON COURT RULING UPHOLDING ARKANSAS ABORTION BAN
Washington, D.C.
— Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the statement below after the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to allow the state of Arkansas to enforce a ban on elective abortions during the China virus outbreak:

“Medical resources—especially during a pandemic—should be used to preserve life, not end it. Today the 8th Circuit Court upheld the rule of law, rightly supporting Arkansas’s decision to dedicate its healthcare system to saving the lives of Arkansans,” said Cotton.

 
 

April 22, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – APRIL 22, 2020
During the most recent COVID-19 update it was announced that the number of positive coronavirus cases in the state of Arkansas has reached 2,276, with 1,371 of those cases reported to be currently active. This information was made available to the public during a press conference held by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday afternoon.

It was also reported that 97 people remain hospitalized due to COVID-19, and 23 of those patients are on ventilators. There have been 863 people recover from the virus in the natural state, while 42 deaths due to the coronavirus have occurred. Dr. Nathaniel Smith, Arkansas Department of Health Director confirmed that though 43 deaths by coronavirus were reported on Tuesday, there was one Missouri resident who passed away from COVID-19, and was wrongfully counted as an Arkansan.

The main focal point for the Governor during Wednesday's press conference was target dates for lifting restrictions on Arkansas businesses, including Hair and Nail salons, restaurants, places of worship and other large venues. Although May 4th is the goal date for some restrictions to be lifted, the Governor reports that many businesses will be considered for earlier opening dates. The date for restaurant restrictions to be lifted is set for April 29th, however, many precautions will still be in place for the protection against the COVID-19 spread. For example, personal protection equipment use such as gloves and masks will still be advised, along with limiting the number of people allowed within a confined space at a time.

Though the public has been provided with the goal dates for lifting restrictions on certain businesses, future announcements with official decisions on re-opening will still need to be made at the Governor's direction. As those updates are released, new information will continue to be announced for business owners.

Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas has now reached 2,276, with 1,371 of those cases reported to be active. 

It was also reported that 97 people remain hospitalized due to COVID-19 in the state, and 23 of those patients are on ventilators. There have been 863 people to recover from the virus in Arkansas, while 42 deaths from the illness have occurred.  We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned. 
 

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN APPLAUDS EIGHTH CIRCUIT RULING DELAYING ABORTIONS DURING COVID-19
LITTLE ROCK
 – Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin issued the following statement regarding the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld Governor Asa Hutchinson's directive to delay elective medical procedures, including surgical abortions. Lt. Governor Tim Griffin issued the following statement:

"The Eighth Circuit's ruling that upheld Gov. Hutchinson's directive to delay abortions and other elective procedures during this pandemic is the right one. Thanks to this ruling, abortion clinics will no longer be able to openly flout our state's directives by performing elective abortions and endangering the health and safety of Arkansans."
Additional information: 
Cease and desist letter from the Arkansas Department of Health to abortion clinic.
Arkansas Department of Health Elective Procedures Directive (letter to healthcare facilities)


BOOZMAN SUPPORTS ADDITIONAL RELIEF FOR ARKANSAS SMALL BUSINESSES
WASHINGTON—
U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) supported the Senate’s approval of $320 billion in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to assist Arkansas small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.

“The Paycheck Protection Program is an important tool to help Arkansas small businesses remain operational during the coronavirus pandemic and viable in the future. The restoration of funding to this program will support workers and small businesses in the Natural State and all across America. I urge the House of Representatives to quickly approve this funding so we can provide immediate relief to small businesses facing financial hardships,” Boozman said.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) administers the PPP. According to the SBA, it has approved more than 21,000 loans worth more than $2.7 billion to Arkansas small businesses.
A recent survey of Arkansas Bankers Association members found that applications in limbo due to the program’s depleted funding total more than $1.1 billion.

The PPP was created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Boozman supported. It provides low-interest loans to small businesses to use for payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utilities, with a portion of the loan eligible for forgiveness.
Small business owners can find local SBA-approved lenders here.



COTTON FORCE ACT SURGES $43 BILLION TO THWART CHINESE MILITARY ASPIRATIONS IN INDO-PACIFIC
Washington, D.C.
— Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) has introduced a bill that would dramatically increase investment—$43 billion in total—for military infrastructure, weapons, and other assets in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Forging Operational Resistance to Chinese Expansion (FORCE) Act is a critical investment in the United States’ ability to compete with China. The bill will help thwart the Chinese Communist Party’s main geopolitical aim in the wake of the China virus: pushing the United States out of the Western Pacific, intimidating its neighbors, and achieving cross-strait unification with Taiwan via military force.

The bill also shields the U.S. defense-industrial base—especially small suppliers and manufacturers—from the China virus’s economic fallout.

A summary of the bill may be found here. Bill text may be found here.

“The Chinese Communist Party will try to exploit the world’s weakness in the wake of a virus it unleashed. We cannot allow it to succeed. The FORCE Act will greatly strengthen the United States’ position in the Indo-Pacific, allowing us to block China’s goals of regional dominance, and ultimately, competition with the United States,” said Cotton.

FORCE Act Highlights:
$6.1 billion to regain the advantage in the Indo-Pacific region
$9.2 billion in capability increases for great power competition
$11.0 billion for mitigating coronavirus impacts to procurement programs
$3.3 billion for mitigating coronavirus impacts to defense industrial base
$1.5 billion for hospital ship recapitalization
$12.0 billion to enhance national resilience and critical infrastructure

Click here for a complete bill summary. Click here for full bill text.

 
 
 
 

April 21, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – APRIL 21, 2020
The state of Arkansas is now reporting 2,227 positive coronavirus cases as of the most recent press conference held by Governor Asa Hutchinson Tuesday afternoon. Dr. Nathaniel Smith, Arkansas Department of Health Secretary confirmed that only 1,375 of those cases are currently active. Smith also says the number of newly reported cases is actually decreasing, from what was previously around 70 per day, to nearly half of that. The large increase in cases from yesterday to today is due to 262 of the newest cases being reported out of the Cummins unit maximum security prison in Lincoln County.

There are 86 patients currently hospitalized due to the coronavirus, 23 of whom remain on ventilators at this time. Arkansas officials are also reporting that 809 people have recovered from the illness, while the death toll in the state has reached 43.

In financial news for the state, the first meeting of the newly-formed Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force was held Tuesday. The Governor welcomed task force leader Stuart Walton to speak on the accomplishments achieved during the group's inaugural meeting. Walton reports that subcommittees have been formed within the task force for different department across the state, including healthcare, commerce, and agriculture. He also says strategic recommendations will be developed in order to assist businesses in need of support during the economic recovery process.

The Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force will be reporting updates to the Governor as resources and planning strategies are developed.

Again, the total number of positive coronavirus cases reported in the state of Arkansas is now 2,227. 1,375 of those cases are active, and 809 people have reportedly recovered from the illness. There are 86 patients who remain hospitalized from COVID-19, and 23 of them are currently on a ventilator. The number of deaths due to the coronavirus in Arkansas is now 43. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

ACT NOW – GO TO IRS.GOV – A MESSAGE FROM SOCIAL SECURITY COMMISSIONER ANDREW SAUL
Action Needed for Social Security Beneficiaries with Dependents and Who Do Not File Tax Returns to Receive $500 Per Child Payment
“Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients who don’t file tax returns will start receiving their automatic Economic Impact Payments directly from the Treasury Department soon.  People receiving benefits who did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes, and have qualifying children under age 17, however, should not wait for their automatic $1,200 individual payment.  They should immediately go to the IRS’s webpage at www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here and visit the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here section to provide their information.  Social Security retirement, survivors, and disability insurance beneficiaries with dependent children and who did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes need to act by Wednesday, April 22, in order to receive additional payments for their eligible children quickly.  SSI recipients need to take this action by later this month; a specific date will be available soon.

By taking this proactive step to enter information on the IRS website about them and their qualifying children, they will also receive the $500 per dependent child payment in addition to their $1,200 individual payment.  If beneficiaries in this group do not provide their information to the IRS soon, their payment at this time will be $1,200.  People would then be required to file a tax year 2020 tax return to obtain the additional $500 per eligible child.

I urge Social Security and SSI recipients with qualifying children who do not normally file taxes to take action now.  Immediately go to IRS.gov so that you will receive the full amount of the Economic Impact Payments you and your family are eligible for.

People with Direct Express debit cards who enter information at the IRS’s website should complete all of the mandatory questions, but they may leave the bank account.
 

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON PROCLAIMS APRIL 2020 SECOND CHANCE MONTH IN ARKANSAS
Washington, D.C.— Prison Fellowship, the nation’s largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, released the following statement after Governor Asa Hutchinson proclaimed April 2020 as Second Chance Month for the state of Arkansas.

“We are honored that Governor Hutchinson signed this proclamation—designating April 2020 as Second Chance Month in the state of Arkansas,” said Craig DeRoche, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy for Prison Fellowship. “There is no such thing as a throwaway person, and by granting second chances to those who have earned them, we will be contributing to the restoration of families, communities and our nation.  Together, we are working to remove unnecessary barriers that prevent those with a criminal record from becoming productive members of society. We believe people with a past can rise from their failure, repay their debts, and that healing is possible for our communities affected by crime.”

President Donald J. Trump proclaimed April 2020 as Second Chance Month for the third consecutive on March 31, 2020.  To view the proclamation, click here.

For far too many who have served time behind bars, release from incarceration brings a new kind of prison. Some 70 million Americans have a criminal record. This limits their access to jobs, education, housing and other things necessary for a full and productive life. Any hope and new identity found while incarcerated can be quickly lost upon release when faced with the “second prison”—the more than 44,000 documented social stigmas and legal restrictions that inhibit opportunities to rebuild someone’s life after paying a debt to society.

Prison Fellowship
With more than 40 years of experience helping to restore men and women behind bars, Prison Fellowship® is a leading national voice shaping the public debate on justice. We mobilize Christians and equip policymakers to advocate for federal and state justice reforms that advance proportional punishment, constructive corrections culture, and second chances.

 

PROTECTING THE SUPPLY CHAIN DURING A CRISIS
by Sen. John Boozman (R-AR)
I was grateful when President Trump recently called me to discuss the agriculture community’s concerns related to the coronavirus crisis, particularly the need to assure the public that our food supply chain remains strong in the midst of this pandemic. 

Later that day, the president shared that message in his remarks from the White House press room and encouraged the nation to thank and pray for “the incredible food supply workers who are feeding our nation.” We may personally know some of these dedicated individuals, but they are often complete strangers, who are sacrificing and working extra hours, under extreme pressure, to ensure we have food to put on our tables. 

Our nation is rightfully thanking first responders and the medical community standing tall on the frontlines of this fight. We pray for their safety as they provide critical care to those in need. While we continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers, we must also lift up those responsible for ensuring the resiliency of our food supply chain. 

Americans depend on our nation’s farmers to grow the food, fuel and fiber we need. This dependence becomes much more pronounced in times of crisis, which creates additional strain on those who provide the goods and supplies necessary for everyday life.  

Our agriculture community, trucking industry and grocers are doing incredible work to ensure that food and critical supplies remain in stock. This moment is presenting an enormous challenge, but they are rising to the occasion.  

No one is immune to this virus. We are beginning to see an uptick in the number of employees at processing plants, grocery stores and other key points in the supply chain who have tested positive. Fortunately, these critical industries have contingency plans in place and are following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance to protect the health and safety of essential workers, while keeping critical functions operating throughout the outbreak. 

While the industry is doing its part, the federal government must take responsible steps to ensure the continuity of our country’s food supply and support rural areas during the coronavirus pandemic. That’s why I joined a bipartisan group of my colleagues to urge U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to consider enacting emergency measures that provide relief to our farmers and ranchers—such as deadline extensions, loan payment deferrals, payment forbearance and a full suspension of all current and pending foreclosure actions—for the duration of the pandemic and subsequent economic recovery.

While consumers may encounter some empty shelves and challenges finding variety during shopping trips, the ebb and flow of a store’s stock is not an indication of a national shortage or a reason to panic. There is no need to buy more groceries than is necessary for a week or two. These are anxious times, but the supply chain is resilient, our producers are agile and our food is safe and abundant. You will be able to get food and supplies on your next visit, without depleting the options for others in need now.  

We have to remember we are all in this together. While most of us are following social distancing guidelines, those critical to ensuring the supply chain holds through this crisis are working harder than ever. We can each do our part to help ease the stress they are under, which in turn, ensures that our family, friends and neighbors can also get the products they need.  

KEEP CAMDEN BEAUTIFUL COMMITTEE AND CITY OF CAMDEN-PUBLIC WORKS CELEBRATING 2111 YEAR EARTH DAY/EARTH WEEK
April 20,2020 thru April 25,2020
Earth Day is April 22, 2020 and the City of Camden is celebrating the whole week. The Keep Camden Beautiful Committee and the Public Works department are teaming to offer free yard waste and yard debris dumping for you. Let’s work together and get Camden clean. During the week of April 20th through April 25th You can take you yard waste and debris to the Camden City landfill for FREE. Clean your yard, clean your neighbor’s yard. No charge to bring your yard waste materials the the City landfill. Yard debris is limbs, leaves gras clippings and pine straw. The City of Camden Transfer Station Earth Week hours are Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4 pm and Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm. The Landfill is located at 2463 Country Club Road. You can call the Public Works/Sanitation Department at 870-837-5573.

COVID-19 DRIVE-THRU EVALUATION APRIL 22 IN EAST CAMDEN TO BE PROVIDED BY UAMS
A free community drive-thru evaluation clinic for COVID-19 will be conducted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). UAMS physicians, nurses from the UAMS main campus in Little Rock and from UAMS South Regional Campus in Magnolia will be on hand to conduct the screening. Screenings will be Wednesday, April 22nd from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at Southern Arkansas university Tech located at 6415 Spellman Road, East Camden

SURVEY: 80% OF PPP APPLICANTS ARE STILL URGENTLY WAITING FOR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
LITTLE ROCK (April 20, 2020) – The NFIB Research Center released a survey today on the small business loan programs. Small business owners were asked about the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan on April 17, the day after the programs ran out of money.

About 20% of submitted applications have been fully processed with funds deposited in the borrower’s account, but 80% of respondents said they are still waiting, and many do not know where they are in the application process.

Most small business owners believe it will take beyond 2020 to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19, with only one-third of small business owners believing their community will get back to a normal level of economic activity by the end of the year. A quarter of owners believe it will not be until 2022 or later before the economy returns to normal.

“Small businesses were prepared and ready to apply for these programs, the only financial support options for most, and it is very frustrating that the majority of these true small businesses haven’t received their loan yet,” said Holly Wade, NFIB Director of Research & Policy Analysis. “Small businesses make up nearly half of the economy, and it’s crucial that their doors stay open.”

Key findings:
About three-quarters of small business owners (almost all employer businesses) have submitted an application for a PPP loan as of April 17.
About one-in-five (20%) of submitted applications have been fully processed with funds deposited in the borrower’s account.
Nearly 80% are still waiting, many not knowing where they are in the process.

About 40% of small business owners successfully submitted an application for an EIDL through the SBA website.
Among those who submitted an application, most (77%) requested the emergency grant of up to $10,000.
Of those who requested the EIDL emergency grant, about 10% have received the funds.
Essentially, all of the EIDL applicants (99%) have yet to receive the loan.

Most small business owners believe it will take beyond 2020 and into the years following to get back to normal economic activity.
About one-third of small business owners believe their community will be back to a normal level of economic activity by the end of the year.
 Just under 40% believe more normal levels of economic activity will return in 2021
 A quarter of owners believe it will not be until 2022 or later before the economy returns to normal.

The full survey is available here.

COSL OFFICE ANNOUNCES POSTPONEMENT OF ALL 2020 AUCTIONS
(April 20, 2020) LITTLE ROCK – Commissioner of State Lands Tommy Land announced today that the 2020 tax auction season has been cancelled due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19.

The season’s early auctions had been canceled earlier. Today’s announcement cancels the remaining auctions for this year.

“Our office must meet certain statutory requirements to conduct tax auctions. Since we are uncertain how long the pandemic will last, we are currently unable to carry out those requirements at this time,” Land said. “Therefore, we have cancelled the remainder of the 2020 auction season, which usually lasts through September.”

“Due to increasing concerns about public health, and in an abundance of caution, we have cancelled all travel until further notice,” he added.

Properties that were scheduled to be offered at auction this year will be offered in 2021. Most counties will feature a single, longer auction. Counties that typically have large, all-day auctions will have two auction dates: an early-spring date for the 2020 parcels, and their regular auction later in the schedule.

The COSL office continues to monitor the developing health situation. “The Governor and Arkansas health officials have continued to offer sound advice with great transparency,” Land said. “We encourage all Arkansans to follow those directives and advice.”

The 2021 auction schedule is now available on the COSL website, www.cosl.org.

 
 
 
 

April 20, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – APRIL 20, 2020
The total number of positive coronavirus cases reported in the state of Arkansas has now reached 1,923, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson at the press conference held Monday afternoon. 1,133 of those cases are considered active, while 749 people have been documented as recovered from the illness. Out of the newest cases reported, 117 of those stem from the state prison system, as a COVID-19 outbreak at the Cummons unit in Lincoln County has been reported in recent press conferences held by the Governor and staff.

There are currently 93 people who remain hospitalized due to the virus, 24 of whom are on a ventilator and the number of people who have died due to COVID-19 in Arkansas is now reported to be 42.

The Governor clarified some confusion regarding the decision to begin lifting restrictions placed on Arkansans because of the coronavirus pandemic. Although moves will be made to open certain business opportunities back up next month, the Governor says social distancing guidelines and advisement to wear masks should still be recognized even after May 4th.

Governor Hutchinson welcomed his wife and the first lady of Arkansas, Susan Hutchinson to speak about the month of April serving as child abuse awareness month. The first lady of Arkansas reported that children are not interacting with others in the same way as before this pandemic began. With schools closed for on-campus instruction and athletic activities cancelled for the season, Mrs. Hutchinson issued a reminder to the public that child abuse will occur with or without a crisis brought on by this virus.

Misha Martin, The Director of The Division of Children and Family services for the Department of Human Services in Arkansas followed Susan Hutchinson in providing additional information about resources available to help children and families in need. She also spoke about the importance of reporting suspected abuse and neglect of kids and teenagers in Arkansas.

To report suspected abuse of a child, residents are asked to call 1-844-SAVE-A-CHILD and visit childsafetycenter.org for more information on spotting the signs of neglect or abuse during child abuse awareness month and every month that a child may need help. 

Again, there are now 1,923 positive cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas, 1133 of which are active. There are 93 people who remain hospitalized from the illness and 24 of those patients are on ventilators. The state has now reported that 749 people have recovered from the virus, while 42 people have died from the coronavirus in the state of Arkansas.

We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

$10 MILLION ALLOTTED FOR RURAL HOSPITALS
Twenty-seven rural hospitals across the state will receive $10 million worth of financial assistance to provide more services for more patients during the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Saturday.

Each of the selected hospitals will receive from $250,000 to $500,000 from the $10 million slice that’s normally used for community revitalization projects. The money will come from the Community Development Block Grant program, and will give hospitals a boost at a time when they’ve been strained at unprecedented levels.

Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston told Radio Works News Sunday that Ouachita County Medical Center will receive a $500,000 grant. The 98 bed facility in Camden has 390 full-time equivalent employees. Magnolia Regional Medical Center, with 49 beds and 327 full-time equivalent employees, will receive $490,000. Dallas County Medical Center in Fordyce, with 25 beds and 66 full-time equivalent employees, will receive $250,000. The grants will be used to bolster health care capabilities in rural areas of the state.

 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – SUNDAY APRIL 19, 2020
"The number of positive coronavirus cases across the state since the start of the emergency stands at 1,781 among the general population as of Sunday afternoon. There are now 88 COVID-19 patients hospitalized. 25 of those patients are on a ventilator. The virus has now caused 40 deaths in Arkansas, a day-to-day increase of two. 721 people are now listed as recovered from COVID-19. 

These numbers do not include the 348 positive cases among inmates at the Cummins Unit, one of the state's highest-capacity prisons. Much of Sunday afternoon's press conference centered around the Cummins Correctional Institution, where almost 1,400 COVID-19 tests have now been conducted. Governor Asa Hutchinson says that the parole board will review the cases of several non-violent prisoners and non-sex offenders to give consideration to early releases. The Governor says that space is needed in case prisoners need to be re-located for isolation purposes:"

"In other COVID-19 news in Arkansas over the weekend, 27 rural hospitals across the state will receive $10 million worth of financial assistance to provide services for more patients during the coronavirus pandemic. Each of the selected hospitals will receive from $250,000 to $500,000 from the Community Development Block Grant program. 

The Governor has signed an executive order to form the Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force. The 27 member body will look for ways to help put the economy in higher gear, but to do it in a way that's consistent with public-health requirements. Governor Hutchinson announced on Friday that he had set May 4th as the goal to reopen portions of the economy and lift some restrictions that were put into place when the coronavirus emergency was declared. 

UAMS now has an Abbott machine that has the capability to provide COVID-19 test results in the matter of minutes. Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, says the Abbott mobile unit will be headed to Camden, Marianna, and McGehee in the coming week. 

Again, there are now 1,781 positive cases reported as of Sunday afternoon. 1,020 are now active cases. 721 of those cases resulted in full recoveries. 88 patients remain hospitalized. 25 are on ventilators. There are now 348 positive cases among inmates at the Cummins Unit, one of the state's highest-capacity prisons. The number of deaths related to COVID-19 in Arkansas now stands at 40. We'll continue to keep you updated. Stay tuned."

 

SAU TO WAIVE ACT, SAT SCORE REQUIREMENTS FOR SUMMER, FALL 2020
MAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University will waive the ACT or SAT composite score requirements as well as the need to re-test for beginning freshman admission for both summer and fall 2020.

“In these exceptional times, many students are having challenges in taking and/or retaking the ACT,” said Dr. Trey Berry, president of SAU. “We want to allow students to have the opportunity to gain admission to SAU this year with this waiver.”

The waiver will be approved provided the student meets other admission requirements and has a minimum cumulative 2.30 GPA on non-remedial courses on their 7th or 8th semester high school transcript. Students with a high school GPA between 2.0-2.29 and special circumstances may submit an appeal to be considered for approval with the Office of Admissions.

Freshmen are required to have placement scores. SAU will use other assessment instruments or scores for course placement as needed during registration.

Please contact the SAU Office of Admissions at 870-235-4040 with any questions.
 

BARRICADED SUSPECT CALL ENDS IN OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING
APRIL 18, 2020
Cabot Police Department authorities have asked the Arkansas State Police to investigate an officer involved shooting that occurred Friday night (April 17th) after local officers were reportedly attacked by a man who had barricaded himself inside his former girlfriend’s apartment.
 
Caleb Morrison, 31, was transported to a Little Rock hospital where he is being treated for what has been reported to be non-life threatening gunshot wounds.
 
Morrison had allegedly barricaded himself inside the bathroom of an apartment located at 300 Chapel Ridge Road.  Police were dispatched to the apartment about 9:50 PM and negotiated with Morrison for almost an hour before he exited the bathroom brandishing a knife.  Officers initially used an electronic control device (ECD) in an attempt to subdue Morrison.  The ECD failed to stop Morrison who had begun to stab himself with the knife.  Officers then used a less than lethal shotgun round to stop Morrison who subsequently, still holding the knife, lunged at the officers leading one officer to fire his pistol in a final effort to stop the attack.
 
Morrison then fled the apartment through a window and was later apprehended by Cabot police officers.
 
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are leading the investigation.  An investigative case file will be assembled and submitted to the Lonoke County Prosecuting Attorney who will determine whether deadly force by a law enforcement officer used in the incident was consistent with Arkansas law.
 
Questions relating to the identity of officers involved in the incident or their administrative status should be directed to the Cabot Police Department.

 
 

April 17, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON  PRESS CONFERENCE – APRIL 18, 2020
During the latest COVID-19 update from Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced  the number of positive coronavirus cases in the natural state has now reached 1,695. This information was reported during the press conference held Friday afternoon.

Only 1,065 cases are active and 93 of the people infected with the virus are currently hospitalized. There are 23 hospital patients who are battling the illness on a ventilator, and the death toll currently stands at 37, which is unchanged from the report delivered on Thursday afternoon. A total of 593 people have reportedly recovered from the virus at this time. 

The Governor announced logistics for post-peak COVID-19 response efforts, as the transition out of the pandemic will be carried out in phases. After the peak is reached, many residents may be eager to return to hosting social gatherings, attend movie theaters or similar entertainment avenues such as sporting events, festivals and concerts. However, the process of returning to business as usual will be very gradual.

Governor Hutchinson commended President Trump's recent statements on allowing each state to have flexibility based on need when lifting restrictions and opening businesses back up for full operations. 

Dr, Nathaniel Smith attended the conference to provide more details about what residents can expect as businesses lift restrictions in the post-peak era across Arkansas. Even as the regulations begin to be removed, many precautions will still need to be taken to to continue defensive efforts against the coronavirus. Dr. Smith says early May is the target date for restrictions to start being removed, however individuals and businesses should continue regular handwashing, sanitizing efforts, and social distancing to continue fighting against the spread of the illness. 

As of now, the target date to begin lifting COVID-19 restrictions is May 4th. Governor Hutchinson has asked for all residents to continue practicing social distancing guidelines, and all necessary precautions in a collective effort to meet the target date. Coronavirus information for Arkansas is always available online at Healthy.Arkansas.Gov

Again, there are now 1,695 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Arkansas; 93 people hospitalized from the illness; 37 deaths have been reported; and 593 patients are now considered to be in recovery. We'll continue to keep you updated, Stay tuned. 

BAPTIST HEALTH OFFERING COVID-19 DRIVE-THRU SCREENING FOR RESIDENTS IN OUACHITA COUNTY
CAMDEN, Ark. –
Ouachita Valley Family Clinic-A Baptist Health Affiliate has set up a screening tent between the clinic at 353 Cash Road and the Sears Hometown Store in Camden.

The screening location is operating from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Those wishing to be screened will be asked to pull up and remain in their vehicle to be tested for COVID-19. No appointment is necessary.

Visit baptist-health.com/coronavirus for more details regarding Baptist Health’s response to the coronavirus disease, including visitor restrictions at hospitals, access to care, COVID-19 education and drive-thru screening sites.

Baptist Health is Arkansas’ most comprehensive health care organization with more than 200 points of access that include 11 hospitals; urgent care centers; a senior living community and over 100 primary and specialty care clinics in Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. The system additionally offers a college with studies in nursing and allied health; a graduate residency program; and access to virtual care anytime, anywhere. Baptist Health, as the largest not-for-profit health care organization based in Arkansas, provides care to patients wherever they are through the support of approximately 11,000 employees, groundbreaking treatments, renowned physicians and community outreach programs. For more information about Baptist Health, visit baptist-health.com, call Baptist Health HealthLine at 1-888-BAPTIST or download the myBaptistHealth app. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
 

NFIB ISSUES LEGISLATIVE PLAN FOR THE SURVIVAL OF AMERICA’S SMALL BUSINESSES
LITTLE ROCK (April 17, 2020) — The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization, issued a “Legislative Plan for Small Business Survival,” today, that included ten prescriptive recommendations to help ensure more small businesses survive the coronavirus crisis and more quickly return to normal business operations once restrictions are lessened.

“Small businesses, which account for half of the American economy and nearly half of all jobs, are fighting for their survival every day that this crisis continues. Efforts by the Administration and Congress, while well-intentioned, have been met with significant challenges to this point,” said NFIB President Brad Close. “There are lessons to be learned, however, and this plan provides several clear and actionable steps for Congress to take that will help give small businesses a fighting chance.”

The plan includes recommendations for improving the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, ending costly mandates, and making regulatory compliance simpler. These recommendations include:

  1. Extend Paycheck Protection Program and Make Sure the Smallest Employers Get Help.
  2. Increase flexibility for forgivable loan terms in the Paycheck Protection Program.
  3. Prohibit Discrimination Against Small Employers in the Paycheck Protection Program.
  4. End the Costly COVID-19 Mandates on Small Businesses for Paid Sick Leave and Extended Family and Medical Leave on May 31, 2020.
  5. Fully Fund the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and Improve the Related Grant Program.
  6. Recognize the Limits to the Ability of Small Businesses to Learn of and Comply with Laws and Regulations.
  7. Tapered Transition Out of Programs After COVID-19 No Longer Represents a Significant Threat to Public Health.
  8. Narrowly-tailor Any New Requirements Related to the Reopening to Account for the Realities of Different Industries and Business Sizes.
  9. Require Each Agency to Conduct a Regulatory Look-Back Review.
  10. Statement of Policy from Congress on the Future of Small Businesses.

The executive summary and full plan can be found here and here.

“As Congress debates the next steps for providing funding for small businesses, it is crucial they do it in a manner that truly aids the smaller firms in this country. These are the ones that faced the most challenges accessing PPP and disaster loans, something we can’t afford to let happen again,” Close said.

NFIB State Director Sylvester Smith agreed. He said, “Small business is the heart and soul of Arkansas's economy. Unless Congress relieves the financial pressure the COVID-19 response has put on small businesses, many of the local establishments that had to close temporarily may never reopen.”

About NFIB
For more than 75 years, NFIB has been advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven. Since our founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses, and remains so today. For more information, please visit nfib.com.

 

BOOZMAN, COTTON & WOMACK HONOR ARKANSAS SAILOR WHO DIED OF COVID-19
WASHINGTON—
U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressman Steve Womack—honored the service and life of Fort Smith, Arkansas native Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker, Jr. who died as a result of coronavirus related complications after serving aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

“Chief Petty Officer Charles Thacker, Jr. honorably served our country in uniform. His dedication to our nation was perhaps only surpassed by the tremendous love he had for his dear family. Petty Officer Thacker’s appreciation for the special things in life – particularly his loved ones and passions – reminds us how precious time really is and how this virus poses a threat to all of us, even the warriors dedicated to defending America. My thoughts and prayers are with the Thacker family and all who counted Petty Officer Thacker as a friend or loved one. We honor his life and service in uniform, and pledge to keep this proud son of Arkansas’s legacy alive in the years to come,” Boozman said.

“I’m saddened to hear of the passing of Chief Petty Officer Charles Thacker, Jr. His service to the country has earned my utmost gratitude, and my deepest condolences go to his family, friends, and crewmates,” Cotton said.

Womack said, “Today, Fort Smith and the State of Arkansas mourn the passing of a brave patriot and sailor. Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker, Jr. defended our nation and upheld his duty to serve and protect freedom. This is a great loss against an unprecedented enemy, and we must continue to amplify resources on all levels to defeat this virus and safeguard personnel. My deepest condolences go out to the Thacker family, his loved ones, and fellow service members. Though no words can heal the pain, our community sends prayers of comfort and strength during this time.”
 

SAAC NOW REGISTERING FOR NEW DIGITAL VERSION OF CORKS AND CANVAS WORKSHOP TO BE HOSTED ON APRIL 30
Safe at home but looking for some interaction with adults? Join artist Kelly Campbell at home for a virtual Zoom Corks & Canvas on April 30! All of the art supplies you need to create watercolor "Little Landscapes Everywhere" will be available for porch pickup at SAAC on Monday, April 27, and Wednesday, April 29, 10am-2pm. 


The fee for this special Corks & Canvas is $30, and you get to keep the watercolor set, the brushes, extra paper, and any other surprises that you find in your supply bag. The interactive video class will meet at 9am, at 1pm, and at 6pm on Thursday, April 30. You choose your time! If you want to be a part of this very different Corks & Canvas, just go online at saac-arts.org to make a reservation. Payment option can be selected on the registration form.

"Many of us are working from home, and many of us are safe at home, practicing social distancing," Kelly said. "We've been having daily staff meetings via Zoom, and we came up with the idea of using Zoom for Corks & Canvas. I thought it was a marvelous idea! This way, we can get in touch with each other, and by having the class scheduled for three different times during the day, everyone can choose a time that's most convenient."

She said, "This Corks & Canvas will be the first time anyone has worked with watercolor - and I'm very excited to share some basic techniques to create four very small landscapes. They'll each measure approximately two inches by four inches - ish! But we're including enough paper that after class, everyone who participates can play with the watercolors after. 

"These little paintings will absolutely be eligible to hang in our ‘Under Quarantine: Art Created Under Unprecedented Circumstances' exhibit/competition this summer," she continued. "Anyone who has questions about that, or about ‘Kitchen Table Art: Art Created During School Closures' for students can email me, and I'll be more than happy to answer any and all questions."

For more information on the workshop, please email kelly@saac-arts.org. Visit SAAC's website at saac-arts.org to register for the workshop. There is a limit of 15 workshop supply kits. The South Arkansas Arts Center is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas. 

APRIL 16, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON DAILY PRESS CONFERENCE – APRIL 16, 2020
The number of active coronavirus cases in Arkansas has reached 1,620 as announced by Governor Asa Hutchinson during the Covid-19 press conference update Thursday afternoon.  

There are currently 85 people who've been hospitalized from the illness, and 21 of those patients are currently on ventilators. The number of residents who've died from the coronavirus in Arkansas has now reached 37. 

Prior to introducing guest speakers and going over the case numbers, the Governor offered up congratulations to Senator Jimmy Hickey, the Texarkana Republican, who was elected early Thursday as the leader of the Arkansas State Senate for 2021-2023.

Governor Hutchinson announced that the number of new cases of COVID-19 in the state added each day has begun declining, and the hospitalization rate has reportedly begun to plateau. Despite the slight decline and plateau in number trends, the Governor insists that Arkansans should not let up on safety precautions against the COVID-19 virus. A number of meetings has been scheduled for the Governor to address strategies for responding to the pandemic, from both a public health and state economic angle. 

Before opening up the floor for questions, The Governor tapped Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston for the latest update on Arkansas economic news, including unemployment rates and SBA loans. According to Secretary Preston, a new website has been created to simplify the claim process and both extra staff and extended hours will help with the volume of applicants seeking assistance. 

Again, there are now 1,620 cases of the coronavirus reported in Arkansas, and 1,037 of these cases are currently active. 85 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, and 21 of those patients are on a ventilators. The total death count in the state has reached 37.We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

NFIB: CONGRESS MUST ACT TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL PPP FUNDING 
LITTLE ROCK (April 16, 2020) — The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization, issued the following statement on behalf of NFIB President Brad Close following reports the Paycheck Protection Program had exhausted its funding:

“America’s small businesses are on the brink, trying desperately to keep their doors open and support their employees. They have been let down by lawmakers and the bureaucracy with the smallest businesses most disadvantaged in attempting to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program. We’ve been hearing from our members, every day, worried the $349 billion lending program would run dry before help gets to them. Today, their worries became a reality.

“We urge congressional leaders to prioritize America’s small businesses above their political disagreements and immediately provide additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program.”

This week, NFIB penned letters to congressional leaders, urging them to immediately provide further appropriations to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and to the Small Business Administration, strongly encouraging them to address significant funding and communication issues related to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.

About NFIB
For more than 75 years, NFIB has been advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven. Since our founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses, and remains so today. For more information, please visit nfib.com.

 

COTTON ADVOCATES WITHDRAWAL FROM TREATY FOLLOWING REPORTS OF CHINESE NUCLEAR TESTING
Washington, D.C. – Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the statement below following reports that China has recently conducted yield-producing nuclear tests:

“It’s foolish to trust anything the Chinese Communist Party says, especially when it comes to grave matters like nuclear testing. Beijing is modernizing its nuclear arsenal while the United States handcuffs itself with one-sided arms-control restrictions. China has proven it can’t work with us honestly and transparently. We ought to unsign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty,” said Cotton.

Background:

In March of last year, Senator Cotton sent a letter urging President Trump to unsign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.


GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENTS
LITTLE ROCK
– Governor Asa Hutchinson today announced the following appointments:

Judge Mark Pate, Searcy, as Circuit Judge of the Seventeenth Judicial District, Division 2.  Appointment begins May 1, 2020, and expires December 31, 2020.  Replaces Judge Robert Edwards.

Judge-elect Eric Kennedy, Des Arc, as State District Court Judge of the Twenty-Third District, Division 1.  Appointment begins May 1, 2020, and expires December 31, 2020.  Replaces Judge Mark Pate.

Judge Keith Caviness, Plainview, as District Judge for the Northern District of Yell County.  Appointment expires December 31, 2020.  Replaces Judge Carol Collins.

Blair Allen, Little Rock, to the State Parks, Recreation, and Travel Commission.  Appointment expires January 14, 2026.  Replaces Bill Barnes.

Bob Connell, Fairfield Bay, to the State Parks, Recreation, and Travel Commission.  Appointment expires January 14, 2026.  Replaces Bob Knight.

Molly Jackson, Blytheville, to the State Parks, Recreation, and Travel Commission.  Appointment expires January 14, 2026.  Replaces Cindy Smith.

Mike Wilson, Little Rock, to the State Parks, Recreation, and Travel Commission.  Appointment expires January 14, 2026.  Reappointment.

Amy Arnone, Cabot, to the State Council for the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. Appointment expires August 15, 2022. Replaces Ronald Harder.

Donald Morton, Jr., Des Arc, to the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board. Appointment expires June 30, 2021. Reappointment.

Joy Blankenship, Pine Bluff, to the Arkansas Motor Vehicle Commission. Appointment expires January 14, 2027. Reappointment.

Steven Blackwood, Little Rock, to the Department of Human Services State Institutional System Board. Appointment expires June 30, 2022. Replaces Nelson Driver.

Timothy Atkinson, White Hall, to the Arkansas State Board of Athletic Training.  Appointment expires January 14, 2023.  Reappointment.

Joe Mounts, Ozark, to the Technology Equipment Revolving Loan Fund Committee. Appointment expires June 30, 2022. Replaces Scott Jones.

Mary Jean Campo, Hot Springs, to the Technology Equipment Revolving Loan Fund Committee. Appointment expires June 30, 2022. Replaces April Hamilton.

Allen Trammell, Alexander, to the Arkansas Home Inspector Registration Board. Appointment expires January 26, 2022. Reappointment. 

William McBride, Benton, to the Arkansas Home Inspector Registration Board. Appointment expires January 26, 2022. Reappointment. 

Daniel Burkhead, Benton, to the Arkansas Home Inspector Registration Board. Appointment expires January 26, 2022. Replaces Wayne Pace.

Mark Taylor, Hector, to the Arkansas Early Childhood Commission. Appointment expires June 30, 2020. Replaces Deb Tackett.

Tiffany Sharp, Brookland, to the Arkansas Early Childhood Commission. Appointment expires June 30, 2021. Replaces Ava Coleman.

Dr. Cheri Smith, Searcy, to the Arkansas Early Childhood Commission. Appointment expires June 30, 2022. Replaces Glenda Ezell.

Matthew Hyneman, Jonesboro, to the Boll Weevil Eradication Committee. Appointment expires July 1, 2023. Reappointment.

Pace Hindsley, Marvell, to the Boll Weevil Eradication Committee. Appointment expires July 1, 2023. Reappointment.

Scott Bray, Alexander, to the Boll Weevil Eradication Committee. Appointment expires July 1, 2020. Replaces Butch Calhoun.

Ed Vance, Benton, to the State Board of Collection Agencies. Appointment expires January 1, 2023. Reappointment.

Sandra Jackson, Maumelle, to the State Board of Collection Agencies. Appointment expires January 1, 2022. Reappointment. 

Warner Smith, Smackover, to the State Board of Collection Agencies. Appointment expires January 1, 2022. Reappointment.

Tyler Steele, Bentonville, to the State Board of Collection Agencies. Appointment expires January 1, 2023. New Position.

Terrance Scott, Cotton Plant, to the Arkansas Wheat Promotion Board. Appointment expires June 30, 2021. Replaces Jackie Prince.

Blake Swears, Carlisle, to the Arkansas Wheat Promotion Board. Appointment expires June 30, 2021. Reappointment.

Kenneth Clark, Newport, to the Arkansas Wheat Promotion Board. Appointment expires June 30, 2021. Reappointment.

Tony Schwarz, Weiner, to the Arkansas Wheat Promotion Board. Appointment expires June 30, 2021. Reappointment.

David Wallace, Jr., Crawfordsville, to the Arkansas Wheat Promotion Board. Appointment expires June 30, 2021. Reappointment.

Dr. Charles Bower, Springdale, to the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening, Tracking, and Intervention Advisory Board. Appointment expires January 14, 2022. Reappointment.

Dr. Hillary Jones, Jonesboro, to the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening, Tracking, and Intervention Advisory Board. Appointment expires January 14, 2023. Replaces Nannette Nicholson.

Dr. Jennifer Rigsby, Maumelle, to the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening, Tracking, and Intervention Advisory Board. Appointment expires January 14, 2022. Reappointment.

Dr. Rachel Glade, Fayetteville, to the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening, Tracking, and Intervention Advisory Board. Appointment expires January 14, 2023. Replaces Judith Eddington.

Dr. Tammy Vanover, Little Rock, to the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening, Tracking, and Intervention Advisory Board. Appointment expires January 14, 2023. Reappointment.

Una Carroll, North Little Rock, to the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening, Tracking, and Intervention Advisory Board. Appointment expires January 14, 2022. Reappointment.

Dr. Cassondra Williams-Stokes, Little Rock, to the Arkansas State Independent Living Council. Appointment expires February 1, 2023. Reappointment. 

Thomas Connell, Hope, to the Arkansas State Independent Living Council. Appointment expires February 1, 2023. Reappointment. 

Dewey Graves, Jonesboro, to the Arkansas State Independent Living Council. Appointment expires February 1, 2023. Reappointment. 

Shannon Davis, Monette, to the Arkansas State Independent Living Council. Appointment expires February 1, 2023. Replaces Ezell Breedlove.

Kimberly Gatewood, Little Rock, to the Arkansas State Independent Living Council. Appointment expires February 1, 2023. New Position.

Darnell Rice, Mabelvale, to the Arkansas State Independent Living Council. Appointment expires February 1, 2023. Replaces Worthie Springer, III.

Paul Hastings, Little Rock, to the Marine Sanitation Advisory Committee. Appointment expires October 5, 2021. Reappointment. 

Tom Jones, Little Rock, to the Marine Sanitation Advisory Committee. Appointment expires October 5, 2020. Reappointment. 

Todd Gadberry, Royal, to the Marine Sanitation Advisory Committee. Appointment expires October 5, 2022. Reappointment. 

Clay Crump, Kirby, to the Marine Sanitation Advisory Committee. Appointment expires October 5, 2021. Reappointment. 

Amanda Furgerson, Damascus, to the Marine Sanitation Advisory Committee. Appointment expires October 5, 2022. Replaces Kevin Lorenz. 

Scott Bramlett, Clinton, to the Marine Sanitation Advisory Committee. Appointment expires October 5, 2020. Replaces Scott Landers. 

Christopher Sanborn, Mountain Home, to the Marine Sanitation Advisory Committee. Appointment expires October 5, 2021. Reappointment.

Dr. Toby Vancil, Little Rock, to the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee. Appointment expires October 1, 2023. Replaces James Meserow.

Daphne Gaulden, Little Rock, to the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee. Appointment expires October 1, 2021. Replaces Louise Scott.

Jonathan Wilson, Little Rock, to the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee. Appointment expires October 1, 2023. Replaces Carole Garner.

Dr. Rhonda Mattox, Roland, to the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee. Appointment expires October 1, 2022. Replaces William Greenfield.

Dr. Jennifer Redmond-Knight, Little Rock, to the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee. Appointment expires October 1, 2020. Replaces Wonder Lowe.

Dr. Pebbles Fagan, Little Rock, to the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee. Appointment expires October 1, 2020. Replaces Stephen Copley.

Shelly Brown, Austin, to the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee. Appointment expires October 1, 2021. Replaces Edward Rhodes.

Jerri Clark, Cabot, to the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee. Appointment expires October 1, 2023. Reappointment.

Chelsea Conway, Smithville, to the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee. Appointment expires October 1, 2020. Replaces Dr. J. David Busby.

Ruthie Johnson, Pine Bluff, to the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee. Appointment expires October 1, 2023. Replaces Jerry Lewis.
 


COTTON, CRENSHAW BILL WOULD ALLOW AMERICANS TO SUE CHINA FOR VIRUS DAMAGES
Washington, D.C.
– Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) introduced legislation that would allow Americans to sue China in federal court to recover damages for death, injury, and economic harm caused by the Wuhan Virus. Specifically, the bill would amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to create a narrow exception for damages caused by China’s dangerous handling of the Wuhan Virus outbreak.

“By silencing doctors and journalists who tried to warn the world about the coronavirus, the Chinese Communist Party allowed the virus to spread quickly around the globe. Their decision to cover up the virus led to thousands of needless deaths and untold economic harm. It’s only appropriate that we hold the Chinese government accountable for the damage it has caused,” said Cotton.

“We need to hold the Chinese government accountable for their malicious lies and coverup that allowed the coronavirus to spread across the world. The communist regime expelled journalists, silenced whistleblowers, and withheld vital information that delayed the global response to the pandemic. Simply put: their actions cost American lives and livelihoods. This bill will help ensure China’s actions are not without consequences,” said Crenshaw.

Background:

  • Senator Cotton's bill is modeled after the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which 97 members of the Senate voted in favor of in 2016.
  • The bill makes clear that that covering up the virus and causing it to spread faster or further than it otherwise would have can be considered a tortious act.
  • Cotton’s bill gives the United States a powerful tool to get China to pay for the damage it has caused: If the United States and China come to an agreement to settle the claims, then the private suits could be dismissed. In other words, China can take responsibility and agree to pay for the damage it has caused, or it can face potentially millions of claims in federal court.

     

BOOZMAN AND WARNER LEAD EFFORT TO URGE USDA TO ASSIST COTTON INDUSTRY IN WAKE OF CORONAVIRUS
WASHINGTON–As the coronavirus continues to take an economic toll on agriculture producers, U.S. senators from both parties have come together to encourage the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to work with the cotton industry so that needed aid can be delivered in a timely manner.

A letter from 21 senators to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue—led by Sens. John Boozman (R-AR) and Mark Warner (D-VA)— noted that while all sectors of the agricultural economy have been impacted by this public health crisis, the U.S. cotton industry has been particularly hard hit during this time, making the need for assistance all the more urgent.

“Since the beginning of 2020, cotton futures prices have declined 30 percent. As retail stores around the globe have shuttered, orders from U.S. textile mills have dropped as much as 90 percent in the last month. Cotton merchandisers and distributors are also facing additional costs for storage, interest, and other carrying costs as worldwide demand is significantly depressed,” the senators wrote.

The senators encouraged USDA to work with the industry to craft policies that will aid each segment of the cotton industry.

“We understand the cotton industry has reached consensus on a package of recommendations to assist all segments of the industry. We encourage you to work with the industry, so that needed aid can be delivered in a timely manner. In responding to the current crisis, Congress and the Administration have acted swiftly to assist the people of our country during this time. We ask that you use that same approach to ensure that this critical industry represented throughout our states receives the necessary assistance,” they wrote. 

Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), John Cornyn (R-TX), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Jerry Moran (R-KS), John Kennedy (R-LA), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Richard Burr (R-NC), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) signed the letter Boozman and Warner authored.

The full letter is available below.

Dear Secretary Perdue:

We write today concerning the ongoing public health crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on the agricultural industry. We appreciate all the work USDA is doing to ensure farmers, ranchers, and the entire food and agricultural industry can continue to operate during this uncertain time. As you know, American agriculture has suffered greatly in recent years, and the economic strain from the COVID-19 pandemic has presented further challenges for our producers. While all sectors of the agricultural economy have been impacted by this public health crisis, the U.S. cotton industry been particularly hard hit during this time. 

Since the beginning of 2020, cotton futures prices have declined 30 percent. As retail stores around the globe have shuttered, orders from U.S. textile mills have dropped as much as 90 percent in the last month. Cotton merchandisers and distributors are also facing additional costs for storage, interest, and other carrying costs as worldwide demand is significantly depressed. Cottonseed, a majority of which is used as a feed ration for dairy and beef cattle, is in a tenuous situation as its main customers – dairy and beef cattle producers– are also facing severe economic losses because of the ongoing public health crisis. 

We understand the cotton industry has reached consensus on a package of recommendations to assist all segments of the industry. We encourage you to work with the industry, so that needed aid can be delivered in a timely manner. In responding to the current crisis, Congress and the Administration have acted swiftly to assist the people of our country during this time. We ask that you use that same approach to ensure that this critical industry represented throughout our states receives the necessary assistance.

Thank you for your ongoing efforts to provide relief, and we look forward to working with you in this regard. 

Sincerely,

April 15, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON PRESS CONFERENCE, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15, 2020
The total number of positive coronavirus cases in the state of Arkansas has now reached 1,569, though only 1,047 of the cases are active. This information was reported by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson during the most recent covid-19 press conference update at Wednesday afternoon. The number of people hospitalized because of the virus currently is 83, and 26 of those patients remain on ventilators at this time. 215 of the Arkansans infected with the illness are workers in the healthcare industry and 489 people have now reached recovery status.

Good news was announced by Governor Hutchinson in regard to the medical personnel who've been combating the pandemic by providing healthcare services to sick patients across the state. Hutchinson reports that approval from medicaid will allow payments to be dedicated to nurses, home health aides, assisted living center staff, and several others who are on the front lines of battling the COVID-19 epidemic. 

Secretary Gillespie of the Department of Human Services announced the ways in which healthcare facilities can access the coming payments and distribute the financial assistance to those who qualify. Gillespie says the payments must be allocated to the workers directly, and both public and private health centers are eligible for the assistance.

Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe commended the front-line workers for their service, and applauded their efforts. Dr. Bledsoe also addressed the concerns many have expressed in regard to the date that businesses and closed agencies may begin to open back up. The surgeon general says officials understand that the crisis Arkansas is facing is one of both health, as well as the economy.

Again, there are now 1,569 positive cases of the coronavirus reported in the state of Arkansas. 83 people remain hospitalized from the illness and there have been 33 deaths documented to date, however 489 patients have recovered.

We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

UAMS, PARTNERS TO PROVIDE FREE COVID-19 DRIVE-THRU EVALUATION  APRIL 22 IN EAST CAMDEN
LITLE ROCK – A free community drive-thru evaluation clinic for COVID-19 will be held from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. April 22 at Southern Arkansas University Tech Student Center at 6415 Spellman Road in East Camden.

The clinic will be conducted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), along with Ouachita County Medical Center and Ouachita County Health Officer Larry Braden, M.D.

You do not have to be a UAMS patient to be seen. This evaluation clinic is for anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms, including cough, fever, shortness of breath. Not everyone who is sick needs to be tested.

Clinic physicians will evaluate you to see if you need to be tested. If you are not tested, you will be given instructions on how to take care of yourself and your family at home. If you are tested, results take several days to come back and you will receive a phone call about your test results.

If you feel well and don’t have any symptoms, continue to stay home, wash your hands regularly, and practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away from other people when in public places. An online screening tool is available at uamshealth.com/healthnow. Phone screening is available through the UAMS Health hotline at 800-632-4502.

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state’s Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — cancer, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.
 

NFIB CALLS ON SBA AND CONGRESS NOT TO SHORTCHANGE SMALL BUSINESSES
LITTLE ROCK (April 15, 2020) — The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization, called on Congressional leaders to immediately provide further appropriations to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and urged the Small Business Administration to address significant funding and communication issues related to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.

In a letter sent to congressional leaders, today, NFIB noted the urgency for Congress to take action on PPP and requesting “immediate authorization and appropriations to increase Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) and Emergency Grants from the Small Business Administration (SBA).”
 

“The original appropriation for the PPP forgivable loans may be exhausted as soon as this week. As the program operates on a first-come, first-served basis, further delays in appropriations will slow the forgivable loan approval process and lock out those business owners who are only recently eligible to apply such as independent contractors and self-employed individuals. If the funds are exhausted or financial institutions are forced to limit applications, the smallest businesses will be harmed the most.

“NFIB supports the immediate appropriation of an additional $251 billion for the PPP forgivable loans.”

A separate letter sent to SBA, NFIB urged the agency “to address the funding and communication issues concerning the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.”

“An NFIB Research Center survey released on April 9, 2020, shows that half of small businesses have applied for EIDLs with nearly every owner also applying for the advanced Emergency Grants of up to $10,000. The same survey found that of those who have applied only 4% had been approved while the vast majority of applicants still had not received any communication regarding their application. As of April 9, no business owner surveyed had received a loan or a grant.

“Late last week, NFIB began hearing from members that the SBA was implementing the EIDL program in a manner inconsistent with the statute and Congressional intent … If the SBA is concerned that they cannot fulfill that request due to lack of funding, the SBA should communicate that issue with the public and request more funding from Congress, rather than limiting loans and grants to small businesses on the brink.”

The full letter to the Small Business Administration can be found here.

The full letter to Congressional leaders can be found here.

About NFIB
For more than 75 years, NFIB has been advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven. Since our founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses, and remains so today. For more information, please visit nfib.com.

BANK ON ARKANSAS+ TO HELP EXPEDITE COVID-19 FINANCIAL RELIEF PROCESS WILL OFFER CERTIFIED CHECKING ACCOUNTS TO ENSURE SWIFT IRS PAYMENTS
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (April 15, 2020) - Bank On Arkansas+ is offering access to certified checking accounts to ensure Arkansans are able to receive government-issued relief in a timely manner. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the IRS will distribute economic impact payments to help ease American’s COVID-19-related financial challenges. Those who are unable to receive funds through direct deposit may not receive paper checks until September.

"Since we formed Bank On Arkansas+ in 2018, we have focused on engaging Arkansans who still receive paper checks and are potentially unbanked,” said Kara Wilkins, the initiative’s director. “In the face of COVID-19, this has become an urgent need, and we are grateful to our participating banks and credit unions for providing economic relief for struggling families.”

In order to receive the IRS economic payments immediately, unbanked and underbanked Arkansans will need to open a bank account and provide their banking information through a secure IRS portal. With the help of participating Bank On Arkansas+ financial institutions—Bank of America, Diamond Lake Federal Credit Union, IBERIABANK, First Security Bank, US Bank, Simmons Bank, Southern Bancorp, Citizens Bank, Wells Fargo and Centennial Bank— these individuals can now open checking accounts, either online or in person by appointment, that have no overdraft fees; monthly minimums of $5 or less; free debit / ATM cards; and direct deposit options. Individuals may visit bankonar.org <http://bankonar.org/>  for details on how to start an account. 

FAA AWARDS ARKANSAS AIRPORTS $51 MILLION FOR ECONOMIC RELIEF AS A RESULT OF CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for awarding $51 million in grants to Arkansas airports affected by the prevention of, preparation for and response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“These much-needed funds will help Arkansas airports continue operations, as well as support their employees and the businesses that rely on air transportation. These grants will ensure the viability of our airports once we’ve beaten the coronavirus,” the delegation said.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—which recently became law with the support of the Arkansas delegation—includes $10 billion in economic relief funds for airports nationwide.

The CARES Act increased funding for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and eliminates the need for grant recipients to contribute a matching percentage of project costs. It also creates a new funding stream that allots money based on formulas that include number of annual boardings and the amount of debt and money in reserve for each airport.

 

April 14, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON PRESS CONFERENCE, TUESDAY, APRIL 14, 2020
The total number of positive coronavirus cases in Arkansas has reached 1,498. There are 81 Arkansans who remain hospitalized with the illness at this time, and 29 of those patients have been placed on ventilators. Though there are no new counties in the Natural State reporting cases, the death count has reached 32, and 144 people with coronavirus cases have now been classified as recovered.

This information was reported to the public during Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson's latest covid-19 press conference held Tuesday afternoon.

The Governor addressed a common question he's received from media outlets and concerned residents in regards to the number of people being tested for covid-19 in Arkansas. Governor Hutchinson reports that the state is increasing its testing capacity and performance. He also says Arkansas is towards the bottom on the list of states in the U.S counting total deaths related to COVID-19.

In an effort to support first responders and healthcare workers impacted by the pandemic, the Governor announced an executive order allowing those on the front lines to qualify for workers comp claims. Hutchinson also announced Highway message boards will be set up around entrance points throughout the state in hopes of reducing the number of out-of-state travelers seeking recreation activities in Arkansas.

After announcing the executive orders, Governor Hutchinson called upon Mr. Dexter Payne, of the Arkansas Department of Corrections with the purpose of addressing the COVID-19 outbreaks that have occurred in the state's prisons. It was reported that 10% of the total coronavirus cases in Arkansas have been documented in detention centers. Payne says many precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Arkansas prison systems.

Arkansans are encouraged to continue wearing masks in public, practicing social distancing, regular hand washing and disinfecting surfaces to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Again, there are now 1,498 positive coronavirus cases in the state and 81 people remain hospitalized along with 29 of whom are on ventilators. There are now 144 people in Arkansas who have recovered from the virus and no new counties have reported fresh cases.

We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

DELEGATION APPLAUDS HHS FOR AWARDING $41 MILLION IN CORONAVIRUS ASSISTANCE TO ARKANSAS CHILD CARE PROVIDERS WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding federal funds to provide child care support to health care workers, first responders and other essential personnel playing critical roles during the coronavirus crisis.

The funding—totaling $41,462,912—will be released to the Arkansas Department of Human Services to support efforts to provide assistance to child care providers in order to financially support them during the public health crisis. It comes from the $3.5 billion allocated to the Child Care and Development Block Grant program by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which recently became law with the support of the Arkansas delegation.

“This funding will help those on Arkansas’s front lines as they grapple with the challenge of responding to the coronavirus crisis while simultaneously taking care of their own families’ needs. We are grateful that Secretary Alex Azar recognizes the necessity of getting these funds out swiftly to help alleviate some of the concerns of our health care workers, first responders and other essential personnel in these trying times,” the delegation said.
 

MULERIDER MUSIC MAJORS OFFER VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION TO BENEFIT 9TH-12TH GRADE MUSICIANS
MAGNOLIA –
Mulerider Band members continue to share their sound and skills with other aspiring high school musicians during this world-wide pandemic. SAU music majors are offering 25-minute lessons to 9th-12th graders via Skype, Facetime, or Zoom at no cost.

The student-teachers in the Music Education program are reaching out to these students and providing online instruction aimed at keeping up instrumentation as well as their teaching skills.

“We know this is a difficult time in the world, and we are offering assistance to those who would like to continue their efforts as musicians,” said J.P. Wilson, director of the Southern Arkansas University Band program.

Students that are interested in participating in a music lesson can sign up using the Google Form sign-up here https://bit.ly/2xlPQVk. Once the student fills out the form, a Mulerider Band lesson instructor will reach out to the interested students via email to set the lesson time and discuss what they want to achieve in their lesson.

“Any student, anywhere who can access our Google sign-up form, can take advantage of these lessons,” Wilson said. Online lessons will be maintained through the summer and have already reached students in Bentonville, Arkansas, East Texas and Paragould.

Student-teachers Nina Martinez, a sophomore from Greenbrier, Arkansas, and Derik Camp, from Elkins, Arkansas, are organizing and preparing the service. They are working together with other Mulerider Band members to help provide the music lessons.

“When Mr. Wilson brought up this idea, I knew I wanted to start immediately,” Martinez said. “Derik and I came up with a list of music majors who we knew were willing and available to give these virtual lessons, developed the Google form for students to sign up, a YouTube channel for future instructional videos, and the details about how the lessons were going to be taught.”

“Once we started to share the service with high schools and advertising, students were signing up daily,” Martinez said. Providing these lessons to students would not be possible without the time that dedication from our other Mulerider Band members.

 “I can’t thank the lesson instructors enough for giving up their time to help these students,” Martinez said. “Being able to share my passion for music with younger students, whether it be in person or over a Zoom call is incredible. I love seeing how students still want to push themselves as musicians even during this difficult time and I’m happy that I’m able to help with that.”

The interaction between the Mulerider Band members and high school musicians restores hope in everyone. It encourages both students to continue sharing and perfecting their sound during their time at home.

OUACHITA COUNTY REMAINS IN THE DARK
As of 9 am a large portions of Ouachita County was still in the dark. According to Ouachita County Judge Robbie McAdoo as of yesterday afternoon about 50% of Ouachita Electric customers were still out in Ouachita County. According to Entergy, a transmission is out. It was worked on all night and they hope to have it back up later this afternoon. The Entergy transmission is what is keeping Ouachita Electric from restoring a large number of their customers.

The interactive map at www.oecc.com show the following county information:
 

County

Members Served

MembersAffected

Union

4

2

Ouachita

5975

4561

Nevada

59

40

Dallas

687

564

Calhoun

3718

308

Bradley

616

226


As soon as the transmission is repaired, both companies can get to the business of turning the lights back on. Huge thanks to all the linemen and other power workers for their continued hard work. You can visit www.entergy.com to see a nap of outages on a county by county map.
 

SAU COUNSELING SERVICES STILL AVAILABLE DURING PANDEMIC
MAGNOLIA – The outbreak of COVID-19 may be stressful for many members of our campus community. If you are feeling fear or anxiety about the disease, you are not alone and are encouraged to reach out to the professional counselors that are available to you.

The Southern Arkansas University Counseling Center is committed to prioritizing the health and wellness of our students, faculty and staff. With social-distancing measures in place, the counselors have implemented counseling via technology-assisted means. Appointments can be scheduled by calling Rhonda Basinger at 870-235-4911 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. A therapist will contact the client at the scheduled time.

The Arkansas Department of Health and the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling has recommended the voluntary suspension of all non-emergency or non-urgent in-person care or services. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has suspended the usual rules and regulations regarding the use of technology-assisted distance counseling.

For any emergencies after hours, students still need to contact the University Police Department at 870-235-4100.

The Counseling Center offers the following tips on being productive while studying or working remotely:
Make sure you have a dedicated workspace. Arrange the equipment and tools you need (laptop, chargers, phone, etc.)
Get up at your regular time in the morning and follow a routine – take a shower, get dressed, and have a breakfast. Though it may be tempting to work in your pajamas, you may find yourself feeling less motivated to work and more inclined to take a nap.
Take a walk around the neighborhood to get out of being-at-home mode and into work mode (while maintaining social distance).
Find a video platform that will enable to you maintain social interaction at home. Many are available, including Zoom, Skype, WebEx, and Slack. Use video or chat to ask your teammates for help when you need it. The ability to ask for help is crucial for your mental health as well as your ability to do your job.

In order to stay informed, schedule for yourself a 15-minute news check twice a day. This can allow you to keep up with the latest developments without reducing your productivity or increasing anxiety.

Schedule mental health breaks – time for lunch, and shorter breaks throughout the day to walk or meditate. This will provide greater energy and ability to focus.

Do not neglect your mental health during this difficult time. We encourage anyone experiencing distress or wanting the opportunity to process your thoughts, feelings and reactions to seek support from our university counselors. Remember, you are not alone.   
 

ARKANSAS BROADCASTERS ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH CONGRESSMAN RICK CRAWFORD, LT. GOVERNOR TIM GRIFFIN AND OTHER STATE AGENCIES ON FARM CORPS INITIATIVE
Little Rock - The Arkansas Broadcasters Association (ABA) is proud to announce their partnership with Congressman Rick Crawford, Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin, the Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Department of Agriculture, the Arkansas Department of Veteran Affairs and the Arkansas Farm Bureau on the FARM Corps initiative. The ABA and its members are stepping up to produce and provide their PSA megaphone for this important message. 

“I’m proud to have such an exceptional group join the efforts to spread the word about FARM Corps,” said Congressman Crawford.   

“Arkansas Broadcasters have and always will be there to support the needs of their state and communities. This partnership allows us broadcasters to use our broadcast power for the greater good, to show our loyalty to our fellow Arkansan and fulfill our end of the joint mission of public service each member of this partnership shares,” said ABA Executive Director Luke Story.  

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: BE WARY OF MIDDLEMEN PROMISING PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT FROM FOREIGN MANUFACTURERS 
Rutledge says, ‘As with any business transaction, we should always be cognizant of deals that are too good to be true’
LITTLE ROCK – As state and local governments, hospitals and health care organizations, and businesses have worked to acquire personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect their employees and citizens from exposure, many middleman businesses have arisen to broker deals with foreign manufacturers in order to supply the desperately-needed equipment.  These brokers purport to offer NIOSH-approved masks, face shields and gowns in mass quantities but at inflated prices. Furthermore, many brokers cannot verify the quality of the products or the authenticity of their overseas sources. 

“Just like law enforcement officers expect and depend on their body armor for protection, individuals shouldn’t have to be concerned about the legitimacy of the PPE that they are wearing,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As with any business transaction, we should always be cognizant of deals that are too good to be true. Buyers should do their due diligence to confirm the authenticity of the products prior to purchase and should report scam and price gouging suspicions to my office.”

Attorney General Rutledge provided the following tips in order to protect the public health and to avoid unintended consequences and financial losses:

  • When ordering PPE from online retailers, always verify the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) and confirm “https” in the web address, as a lack of a security certification (“https”) may be an indicator that the site is insecure or compromised.
  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Air purifying respirators approved by NIOSH are available at https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/topics/respirators/disp_part/default.html
  • In particular, consult the NIOSH website to – 
  • For further guidance regarding non-NIOSH-approved respirator masks that may qualify as approved, consult guidance from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) at https://www.fda.gov/media/136403/download.
  • If procuring other categories of PPE such as gowns, gloves, goggles, and face shields, consult the manufacturer to verify authenticity and availability.
  • Be wary of unprompted solicitations to purchase large quantities of PPE and do not provide usernames, passwords, personal identifying information (PII) such as social security number and date of birth, or financial information in response to an email or robocall.
  • Ask the seller for information about the manufacturer, its location and its reputation for manufacturing high-quality goods.
  • Check with the Secretary of State’s Office to determine if the broker is registered to do business in Arkansas and is in good standing.

To find out more information about COVID scams and fake websites, or file a consumer complaint visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.

 

April 13, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON UPDATE – APRIL 13, 2020
During the most recent Covid-19 update provided by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson Monday afternoon, it was announced that there are now 1,410 cases of the coronavirus that have been reported in the state of Arkansas. Out of the total cases reported, 989 are active, without factoring in the patients who have entered recovery status or passed away.

There was also a new county added to the list of reporting Arkansas areas as Jackson County has now begun documenting coronavirus cases. There are 74 covid-19 patients who remain hospitalized, 28 of whom are on ventilators and a total of 30 deaths in Arkansas have been caused by the virus. 

An issue noted during Monday's press conference was on the Covid-19 outbreaks that have sourced in the state's correctional facilities. Governor Hutchinson says that prisons in both Forrest City, of St. Francis County; and the Cummins unit in Lincoln County have reported significant numbers of Coronavirus cases this month, as dozens of inmates have contracted the illness. Dr. Nathaniel Smith reports that much of the additional investigating of the detention center outbreaks will be handled by the Center For Disease control. 

Despite case numbers surpassing 1,400 in Arkansas, Governor Hutchinson says that there still is not any indication that the rate has reached the peak yet. Officials have pushed back the anticipated peak date from April 24th, to April 29th and the Governor insists, that now is not the time to let up on social distancing, wearing masks, or refraining from group gatherings. All of these efforts must be continued in order to combat the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic.

Once the peak of cornavirus case reporting hits for Arkansas, a team of medical professionals appointed by Governor Hutchinson will serve on the "Post Peak Covid-19 Medical Advisory Board" to maintain the necessary actions for maintaining a downward trend of the covid-19 pandemic.

Again, there are now 1,410 total cases of the cornonavirus reported in Arkansas and 30 people have died from the illness. There are also 74 patients who remain hospitalized from Covid-19 and 28 of them remain on ventilators at this time. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned. 

CABUN RURAL HEALTH IN HAMPTON RECEIVES FEDERAL FUNDS
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded over $10 million in federal funds to 12 health centers across Arkansas to help facilitate the coronavirus response in our communities.

One of the recipients was Cabin Rural Health Services, Inc. based out of Hampton. The funding amount awarded to Cabin Rural Health Services totals $662,465. The funding comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which recently became law.

The funds will be used to support the health centers' coronavirus detection, prevention, diagnostic and treatment efforts. The money will also be used to help maintain or increase capacity and staff.

COUNTY DAMAGE UPDATES FOLLOWING SEVERE WEATHER
NORTH LITTLE ROCK— Severe weather and thunderstorms affected many parts of Arkansas yesterday afternoon.  At least one death has been reported as a result of the storm system.  A list of reported damages to counties follows:

Bradley County – Widespread power outages have been reported.  Widespread damage reported including downed trees and structural damage.

Calhoun County – 95% of the county is reported to be without power.

Clark County – Widespread damage reported across the county caused primarily by downed trees.

Drew County – Multiple trees and power lines downed throughout the county.

Grant County – At least eight homes sustained structural damage.  The city of Grapevine is currently without water.  Widespread power outages across the county.

Franklin County – Damage to structures in the Watalula area north of the Ozarks.  Additional damage throughout the county primarily caused by downed trees.

Hempstead County – Power outages throughout the county.  Widespread damage primarily caused by downed trees reported across the county.

Jefferson County – One fatality reported.  Widespread damage reported throughout the county primarily caused by downed trees.

Lincoln County – Widespread damage reported across the county including downed trees and power lines.

Logan County – Multiple trees and power lines downed across the county.  The Booneville Human Development Center building sustained roof damage.

Ouachita County – Widespread damage reported across the county including downed trees.

Saline County – Approximately 20% of the county is without power.  Three homes were damaged.

This is a preliminary report comprised of information that has been reported by local jurisdictions to the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management.  More information will be made available as it is received.


THE CALL TRAINS 176 NEW FOSTER PARENTS ONLINE AMIDST THE COVID-19 CRISIS
Little Rock, AR – April 9, 2020 – Ninety-three new Arkansas foster families from 32 counties participated in The CALL’s
-ever online training to prepare to accept children removed from their homes because of abuse and neglect.

Since 2007, the faith-based nonprofit has helped 2,400 families open their homes to foster or adopt through the Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The CALL recruits, trains and supports foster and adoptive families in 52 counties.

With face-to-face trainings cancelled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus, The CALL quickly organized its first online virtual training. A total of 176 individuals participated. To put that in perspective, The CALL usually trains an average of 75 families per month.

On March 21, 2020, USA Today reported that experts are concerned that the number of abused and neglected children will rise as the stress of isolation and economic strain affects the stability of families. Over the past few years, the child welfare system has moved from crisis to stability. A rising number of children in care could stress that delicate balance.

Many open foster homes are full. More homes will be needed if there is an increase in the number of children and teens in care. To ensure foster families are properly prepared to open their homes, The CALL staff and volunteers, in cooperation with their DCFS partners, developed the required training online. Completing this training will move families one step closer to opening their homes.

One prospective foster family from Saline County said, “It is wonderful that The CALL has developed this online training so that we can continue our journey to become foster parents amid the crisis. And the bonus was that we did it all from the comfort of our home.”

 The CALL volunteers made gift baskets for the families with goodies they would need during the 30-hour training such as snacks, pens and paper, training packets and even some home-baked goods for the entire family. 

Executive Director Lauri Currier said, “At The CALL, we value innovation. It is a significant part of our organizational culture. Our team realized that if we do not train families during the COVID-19 health emergency, we would fall behind in helping DCFS open foster homes. I am thankful for our trainers and other volunteers who made foster parent training a reality this past weekend. This is one more way that The CALL shows our commitment to kids in care.”

To learn more about The CALL, visit TheCALLinArkansas.org or facebook.com TheCALLinAR.

FIVE TEACHERS NAMED 2020 ARKANSAS COMPUTER SCIENCE EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR FINALISTS LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Education is pleased to announce the five educators selected as finalists for the 2020 Arkansas Computer Science Educator of the Year Award.

“In this second year of the program, our team reviewed many quality applications; however, when the #CSforAR team carefully considered every application, the team unanimously agreed that these five educators demonstrate both a long-term and ongoing commitment to, passion for, and impact on computer science education in Arkansas and the nation,” said Anthony Owen, state director of Computer Science Education. “These educators have earned and deserve this recognition."

The 2020 Computer Science Educator of the Year Finalists are as follows.
Sean Gray, Marion School District
Brenda Qualls, Bryant Public Schools
Kimberly Raup, Conway Public Schools
JJohn Mark Russell, Bentonville School District
Lauren Taylor, Dardanelle Public Schools

Each finalist will receive a $2,500 award from the Arkansas Department of Education’s Office of Computer Science. A panel composed of representatives from the ADE Computer Science Initiative Unit and external computer science and education leaders will review the finalists' applications and select the 2020 Computer Science Educator of the Year based on a rubric scoring system. The winner, who will be announced at a later date, will receive an additional $12,500 award.

BLUE & YOU FOUNDATION OPENS $1.7 MILLION COVID-19 RELIEF GRANT PROCESS; PROVIDES $500,000 TO FIGHT FOOD INSECURITY IN ARKANSAS 
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (April 9, 2020) – As the coronavirus health crisis continues to have an impact on Arkansans, the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas is responding, donating $500,000 in support of immediate needs around food insecurity in the state and opening the “Rapid-Response COVID Relief” grant process to award up to $1.7 million in grants supporting nonprofit organizations that have experienced the consequences of COVID-19.

Established by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield in 2001, the Blue & You Foundation is providing support to the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, Arkansas Food Bank, The Pack Shack and 17 United Way agencies statewide to address food insecurity directly, as well as providing $150,000 to the Arkansas Community Foundation, which is also reaching out to Arkansas nonprofits with COVID-related grants.

“Recognizing the tremendous health, economic, and social needs created by the coronavirus pandemic and that we must act with a greater sense of urgency to help struggling communities and their citizens, the Blue & You Foundation is making funds available outside of our normal grant process,” said Patrick O’Sullivan, executive director of the Blue & You Foundation. “The ‘Rapid-Response COVID Relief’ grant process is open and accepting applications. The process has been significantly shortened and grants will be reviewed and awarded weekly for nonprofits that have been affected by the coronavirus health crises to be used for prevention and relief.”

Applications will be received online only. Applying organizations may request a grant ranging from $5,000 to $150,000. Applications will be reviewed and funding decisions made on a weekly basis. Grants not approved immediately each week will be held for consideration for funding in later weeks or months. 

The purpose of the Rapid-Response COVID Relief Grants program is to help eligible organizations lessen the impact of the Covid-19 virus on the individuals, families and communities they serve. Any 501(c)(3) public charity, public school, governmental agency (city, county, state), nonprofit hospital or church in Arkansas is eligible to apply. Grants are not made to individuals. 

“Whether from our own personal experiences or from what we see and hear in the news each day, it’s clear that the coronavirus pandemic has become not just a public health crisis but also an economic and social crisis that’s impacting every part of our lives,” said Curtis Barnett, Arkansas Blue Cross president and CEO. 

“We’re seeing businesses, especially small businesses, struggle. And as a growing number of people have a reduction in their work hours or get laid off from their job, we’re seeing even more Arkansans challenged with food insecurity and other critical social needs. As we have for more than 70 years, we’re here for Arkansans, providing critical funds for our communities. We are working closely with our customers and state agencies to monitor needs and respond.” 

There is no closing date for the Rapid-Response COVID Relief Grant process. The impact of the health crisis is expected to continue for some time. If a closing date is set, it will be communicated at a later date. 

The Foundation’s regular grants cycle for the year has been suspended to allow for the special Covid-related grants program. 

For more information about the “Rapid-Response COVID Relief” grant process or to apply, go to blueandyoufoundationarkansas.org 
 

BOOZMAN, COTTON PUSH FOR RELIEF FOR ARKANSAS’S AQUACULTURE FARMERS

WASHINGTON–As the U.S. aquaculture industry grapples with sharp market share declines and depressed prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Arkansas’s U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton have joined colleagues to push the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to help sustain aquaculture producers in the Natural State.

Boozman, Cotton, Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) sent a letter to Secretary Sonny Perdue asking that he use emergency supplemental funding and other authorities to assist farm-raised fish producers and processors.

“All aspects of the domestic aquaculture industry have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the senators wrote. “Approximately 60 percent of catfish processor sales go to foodservice dining establishments. Foodservice sales are down more than 65 percent across all seafood sectors because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Fish inventories continue to build, which is creating significant cash-flow challenges for processors and depressed prices for producers.”  

“As the Department moves forward in determining how it will allocate resources to support injured sectors of the agriculture industry, we respectfully request that you consider providing grants directly to states, as has been done in the past, to assist aquaculture producers,” the lawmakers said.

The senators recommended that Perdue use $9.5 billion in the CARES Act and his authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation as well as the authority to purchase excess inventory to support this important industry.

The full letter is available below.

Dear Secretary Perdue:

We are writing to request that you assist farm-raised fish producers and processors with the funds provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stabilization (CARES) Act.

All aspects of the domestic aquaculture industry have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 60 percent of catfish processor sales go to foodservice dining establishments. Foodservice sales are down more than 65 percent across all seafood sectors because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Fish inventories continue to build, which is creating significant cash-flow challenges for processors and depressed prices for producers.

Catfish growers alone had sales of $379 million in 2019. As a whole, the industry supports thousands of jobs across the southeastern United States and serves a critical function in supplying our local food systems, restaurants, and schools which grants you broad authority to support American agriculture.

As the Department moves forward in determining how it will allocate resources to support injured sectors of the agriculture industry, we respectfully request that you consider providing grants directly to states, as has been done in the past, to assist aquaculture producers. We also request that you. This much-needed support is essential to the overall viability of the industry.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions.

 

April 10, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON COVID-19 UPDATE – 04-10-2020
During the most recent Covid-19 press conference held by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson on Friday afternoon the new numbers in terms of positive coronavirus cases, and recent deaths caused by the virus were reported. Guest speakers delivered important updates, and there was a special reference to Easter Sunday this weekend in a word delivered by Dr. Rex Horn.

It was reported that there are now 1,171 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Arkansas, although the number of active cases stands at 836 after recovered patients and those who passed away from the coronavirus are no longer factored in the count. No new counties have reported cases and a total of 86 people remain hospitalized with the illness, and 33 of those patients are on ventilators. There are now 23 deaths caused by COVID-19 in Arkansas and 312 people are considered to be in recovery status. 

Before turning things over to Department of Commerce Secretary Mike Preston, Governor Hutchinson spotlighted Tyson Foods, a company that will be placing special equipment in three of their facilities to help detect symptoms in workers on the job.Secretary Preston reported that unemployment claims in the state have surpassed 130,000. However, he also noted that the numbers from this week are actually trending downward in comparison to the previous week's numbers.

 Lastly, The Governor requested Chapel of The House of Representatives, Dr. Rex Horn, to speak for a moment about the upcoming Easter Sunday Holiday, as many religious residents throughout the state will be unable to physically gather together with friends, family, and church congregations. Dr. Horn encouraged reflection on the past and trust in our leadership as the holiday approaches.

Again, there are now 1,171 positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Arkansas, along with 86 hospitalized patients, 33 of whom are on ventilators, 23 deaths and 312 people have recovered. We'll continue to keep you updated. Stay tuned. 

CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION ANNOUNCES EMERGENCY FUNDS FOR ARKANSAS HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENTS
WASHINGTON—
U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—announced emergency grants to support postsecondary students and institutes of higher education impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The funds, totaling more than $100 million, come from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which became law last month with the support of the Arkansas congressional delegation. The CARES Act provides nearly $14 billion to support postsecondary students and institutes nationwide.

“The CARES Act is continuing to deliver necessary funds to help Americans during this crisis. These emergency funds will aid students impacted during this crisis as their schools have been forced to close and many have lost jobs,” members said.

The funding is based on a formula which includes factors such as the number of full-time students who are eligible for Pell grants in addition to total enrollment. Additional funding will be made available by the Department of Education in the coming weeks.

The following Arkansas colleges and universities will receive funding:
First Congressional District
Arkansas Northeastern College                                                          $566, 883                               
Arkansas State University                                                                  $9,258,158                             
Arkansas State University – Mountain Home                                    $1,059,570                             
Arkansas State University – Newport                                                $1,266,638                             
Arkansas State University – Mid-South                                             $855,413                                
Black River Technical College                                                           $1,643,629                             
Crowley’s Ridge College                                                                   $265,023                                            
East Arkansas Community College                                                    $840,222                                
Lyon College                                                                                      $680,216
Ozarka College                                                                                   $797,075
Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas              $905,327
University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville                $1,029,926
Williams Baptist University                                                               $528,271

Second Congressional District
Arkansas Baptist College                                                                   $831,019                                            
Arkansas State University - Beebe                                                     $2,141,764                                         
Baptist Health College Little Rock                                                    $876,349                                
Central Baptist College                                                                       $822,986                                
Eastern College of Health Vocations                                                 $1,332,068                             
Harding University                                                                             $3,252,861                             
Hendrix College                                                                                  $1,056,780                                         
Philander Smith College                                                                     $2,143,674                 
Shorter College                                                                                   $1,097,484
University of Arkansas – Pulaski Technical College                         $4,476,116
University of Arkansas at Little Rock                                                $5,956,500
University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton                 $1,861,056
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences                                    $972,976
University of Central Arkansas                                                          $9,604,924

Third Congressional District                      
Arkansas Colleges of Health Education                                             $47,138                                  
Arkansas Tech University                                                                  $7,098,986                                         
Ecclesia College                                                                                 $148,173                                
John Brown University                                                                       $1,316,339                 
North Arkansas College                                                                     $1,444,804
Northwest Arkansas Community College                                          $3,113,618
Northwest Technical Institute                                                             $437,217
University of Arkansas                                                                       $15,454,361
University of Arkansas at Fort Smith                                                 $5,511,303

Fourth Congressional District
Arkansas State University Three Rivers                                             $669,324        
Champion Christian College                                                              $87,078                                              
Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas            $775,262        
Henderson State University                                                                $3,767,931                                         
JRMC School of Nursing                                                                   $142,391
National Park College                                                                         $2,285,507                             
Northern Technical College                                                               $59,671
Ouachita Baptist University                                                               $1,344,385
South Arkansas Community College                                                 $1,071,512
Southeast Arkansas College                                                               $1,187,530
Southern Arkansas University                                                            $4,025,613
Southern Arkansas University Tech                                                   $782,909
University of Arkansas at Monticello                                                 $3,223,313
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff                                                  $4,295,429
University of Arkansas Community College at Hope-Texarkana      $1,156,335
University of Arkansas Community College Rich Mountain             $542,149
University of the Ozarks                                                                    

DELEGATION APPLAUDS HHS FOR AWARDING OVER $326.5 MILLION IN CORONAVIRUS ASSISTANCE TO ARKANSAS HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding federal funds to hospitals and health care providers across Arkansas to help facilitate the coronavirus response in our communities. 

The grants—totaling $326,536,043—were awarded to 2,905 health care providers in Arkansas. The funding comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which recently became law with the support of the Arkansas delegation. It will support healthcare-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to coronavirus and ensure uninsured Americans can get the testing and treatment they need without receiving a surprise bill from a provider.

This is the first wave of funding awarded to health care providers from the $100 billion appropriated by the CARES Act. It is being distributed immediately proportionate to providers’ share of Medicare fee-for-service reimbursements in 2019. This quick dispersal of funds will provide relief to both providers in coronavirus hotspot areas and those providers who are struggling to keep their doors open due to cancelled elective services.

“Not only are these hospitals and providers on the frontline of the coronavirus fight, but they are struggling like any other business as a result of the pandemic. We are grateful that Secretary Alex Azar recognizes the need to get these funds out swiftly so that these critical facilities can remain operating when our communities need them most,” the delegation said.

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN SAYS ABORTION CLINICS SHOULD FOLLOW GOVERNOR'S DIRECTIVE AND CEASE PROCEDURES DURING PANDEMIC LITTLE ROCK – Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin issued the following statement regarding the noncompliance of abortion clinics with Governor Asa Hutchinson's directive to cease elective procedures during the public health crisis. Lt. Governor Tim Griffin issued the following statement:

"As I indicated at my press conference Wednesday, abortion clinics should cease procedures. I am pro-life, but abortion rights advocates describe the decision to abort as a 'choice.’ That, by definition, means we can all agree that abortion procedures are elective. Abortion procedures should not be occurring in Arkansas, and I applaud the Health Department's letter ordering them to cease and desist."

Transcript of the press conference on Wednesday, April 8, 2020:

Reporter: "In Texas they’re trying to outlaw abortions. ...The courts have said women’s rights, constitutional rights, can be suspended due to the emergency declaration. Do you think Arkansas should ban abortion during this public health emergency."

Griffin: "Well, the governor has already put out through the Department of Health some very specific guidance on what health care providers should and should not be doing, what they can be doing, in terms of elective surgeries, what’s essential, what’s non essential. That guidance was put out , I believe, last week and it specifically mentions in that guidance, abortion clinics. So I can’t speak for the governor but my understanding is, based on the guidance of the Department of Health, that the abortion clinics should not be operating under the current guidance."

Reporter: "And do you believe that’s how it should be?"

Griffin: "Sure, yes."

Additional information: 
 Cease and desist letter from the Arkansas Department of Health to abortion clinic.
Arkansas Department of Health Elective Procedures Directive (letter to healthcare facilities)

CAMDEN CITY COUNCIL MEETING CANCELLED
aldermen, Department Heads and Media have that the April 2020 city council meeting is cancelled due to the health risks associated with the COVID-19 Virus.  If anything pressing comes up that the city council needs to vote on there will call a “Special Called Meeting”.  

 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON COVID-19 UPDATE APRIL 09, 2020
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in Arkansas continues to rise as Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that the total had reached 1,094 as of Thursday afternoon.

The number of recovered patients has also increased. There are now 253 people who were diagnosed with the illness but have now reached recovery status. Other updates announced include the news of Madison County being added to the list of Arkansas counties with reported positive cases and still 73 coronavirus patients remain hospitalized. 

The first South Arkansas area death was reported out of Hempstead county Thursday. The total number of deaths caused by Covid-19 in Arkansas has now reached 21. Officials say the 3 new deaths announced Thursday were all patients age 60 or older. 

When analyzing chart data of COVID-19 trends, the Governor noted that Arkansas has seen less positive cases compared to other ("SEC") states. A contributing factor in the data seems to be population numbers in addition to social distancing and other safety precautions.

A new focus that was touched on during Thursday's press conference was the importance of mental health throughout the covid-19 pandemic. Dr. Rick Smith, Psychiatric Research Director at UAMS was called upon to emphasize the importance of mental health during these trying times, especially those already struggling with underlying disorders .

Paula Stone of the Arkansas Department of Human services announced specific kinds of services and resources available to residents in need of assistance for a crisis or mental health concern. Stone reports that crisis intervention, as well as family and marriage counseling services are available for families struggling with changes and issues brought on by the covid-19 pandemic.

Again, there are 1,094 positive coronavirus cases reported in Arkansas as of April 9th. The death toll has reached 21 and Madison County is the newest area to announce positive cases. There have also been 253 covid-19 cases to reach recovery status and 73 people still remain hospitalized. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned. 
 

SPRING SPORTS CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC
After multiple conversations with the Arkansas Department of Health, the Governor’s Office, the Arkansas Department of Education and with the announcement of the closure of Arkansas schools through the end of the school year, all remaining AAA spring activities, state championships, AHSCA Coaches Clinic, and All-Star games have been cancelled.

“Today’s heart wrenching decision is difficult for all members of the AAA family,” said Lance Taylor, AAA Executive Director. “We sympathize with the students, coaches, parents, and school communities, and especially our graduating seniors, but we recognize that the cancellations will allow our collective focus to remain where it is needed at this time – on the health and safety of all Arkansans. We all must come together to stop the spread.”

The AAA will continue to receive guidance from the Arkansas Department of Health, the Governor’s Office, and the Arkansas Department of Education. The AAA wishes to thank them for their leadership during this COVID-19 pandemic.

SEVERE WEATHER PREPAREDNESS DURING COVID-19
NORTH LITTLE ROCK— As we begin the month of April, the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) is prepared to respond to potential severe weather while engaging the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were 33 recorded tornadoes in Arkansas in 2019, according to the National Weather Service and to date there have been 18 in 2020.

In anticipation of severe weather, residents should prepare by identifying their safest place to shelter while keeping CDC guidelines in mind. If intending to shelter in a community shelter, residents should contact their local emergency management office to ensure the facility will be available during severe weather.

Community shelters should observe the following:

  • Maintain social distancing to the extent practical.
  • If available, surgical masks should be distributed to prevent the spread of droplets created by coughing or sneezing.
  • Ensure availability of hand sanitizer and hand soap to maximize proper hygiene.
  • If cots are required, ADEM recommends a safe distance of six feet between cots.
  • Essential monitoring of the shelter population is advised to identify safe room occupants that may exhibit COVID-19 symptoms such as a temperature of 100.4 or greater.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services, in conjunction with ADEM, will coordinate long-term sheltering if necessary, post-event. Guidance and recommendations from the Arkansas Department of Health and the CDC will be followed.
 

IN OUACHITA COUNTY, THE COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE IS STILL ON THE JOB
By Keri Weatherford and Tonya McKenzie
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service

 

Fast Facts:

  • Agents with the Cooperative Extension Service continue to serve Arkansans during pandemic
  • Agents available through phone, email and Internet communication platforms
  • Many resources available online for farms, families and communities at www.uaex.edu and www.uaex.edu/covid19


Camden, Ark. — The Cooperative Extension Service has been serving the people of Arkansas, from agricultural communities in rural areas to school children in the cities, for more than 100 years, through good times and bad. Our current era, in which we all face serious health risks from the COVID-19 virus, is no different.

Minimizing the effects of this virus, which is unusually contagious and particularly lethal to members of our community who are elderly or immunosuppressed, depends largely on social distancing and otherwise limiting close contact. But that doesn’t mean we, as cooperative extension agents, aren’t still here to support our communities in all the ways we always have been.

Whether your needs are agricultural, financial, dietary or educational, our agents are still here to offer the best in unbiased, research-based knowledge. We are still fundamentally engaged in supporting community and economic development, helping farmers make the best choices for their crops and helping families make the best use of their resources.

Our agents are as available and ready to work as they’ve always been. While public health recommendations may limit in-person contact, we are increasingly available through online venues, including webinars and internet-based teleconferencing. And of course, we’re still ready to answer questions and make recommendations by phone.

If you haven’t visited our website in a while, we recommend you take a look. Whether you need to locate your local agent, download one of our invaluable publications, or read the latest in agricultural reporting, www.uaex.edu is a vast resource for Arkansans. We also have a wealth of resources related to coping with COVID-19 at www.uaex.edu/covid19.  

The bottom line is, we’re still on the job. And we want to help you be, too.

To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent at 870-231-1160  or visit www.uaex.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.

About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system. 

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.  

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
 

COVID-19 EMERGENCY RESOURCES FOR PEOPLE AND PETS
RedRover is greatly concerned for people and animals during this COVID-19 crisis. Here are some resources for pet owners ensuring the health and safety of pet(s) during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Veterinary care
RedRover Relief: Financial assistance grants for emergency veterinary care. Applications accepted online.

Emergency boarding
RedRover Relief Safe Escape grants to help families with pets safely escape domestic abuse together.

If you or someone you know needs help taking care of an animal because of virus-related hospitalization or quarantine, RedRover is in the process of creating a new assistance program to cover the cost of temporary boarding for people suffering from COVID-19 who require hospitalization. In the meantime, we recommend you reach out to local animal shelters and rescue groups to find resources and support available in your area.

If you have animal-related issues or questions, or need animal care or foster, follow your local animal shelter or humane society on social media, call them with questions, and/or check their websites for updates.

Pet food
If you or someone you know cannot afford to purchase pet food, please contact a pet food pantry near you or visit the link below for more guidance.

Assistance with Basic Pet Care and Other Needs
Educational resources for kids
If you are home with kids, check out our free Empathy Resources for At-Home Learning and share with parents and educators.

Emergency plan for pets
Download our COVID-19 Preparedness for Pets PDF

Other preparedness resources
RedRover Pet Disaster Preparedness 
Pet Disaster Preparedness from CDC

How to help
If you are in a position to help, we recommend reaching out to your local animal shelter to see if they need foster homes for their animals.

Please consider making a donation to RedRover to help people and pets in crisis, particularly those who lives have been impacted by COVID-19. Give today at RedRover.org/donate.

Stay connected
Consider checking in with neighbors to stay connected and check if they or their pets are in need. Keep in touch via phone, email or through apps like Nextdoor.com. 

Visit our “COVID-19 Emergency Resources for People and Pets” page often for updates: https://redrover.org/news/coronavirus/. 

About RedRover
Since 1987, RedRover has focused on bringing animals out of crisis and strengthening the human-animal bond through emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance and humane education. For the fifth consecutive year, RedRover’s sound fiscal management practices and commitment to accountability and transparency have earned it a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator. To learn more about how RedRover is creating a more compassionate world, please visit RedRover.org.

 

SBA UPDATE TO ARKANSAS COVID-19 RESOURCES
Arkansas Banks are working to process Paycheck Protection Loans across the state. Borrowers are able to access loans directly form their local lender helping more businesses keep essential individuals employed and support more jobs in small businesses.

SBA  relief resources can be found at sba.gov/coronavirus-relief-options  We’re here to help you overcome the challenges created by this health crisis. We offer multiple funding options for those seeking relief. Read more below at each of the sites. Please check in with a local resource partner listed below to help navigate the best option for you and your business. 
 

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
An SBA loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance
This loan advance will provide up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties.

SBA Express Bridge Loans
Enables small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.

SBA Debt Relief
The SBA is providing a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.The SBA will pay the principal, interest, and fees of current and new 7(a) loans.
SBA Disaster Deferment

Current all borrowers with an SBA Serviced Disaster (Home and Business) Loans: If your disaster loan was in “regular servicing” status on March 1, 2020, the SBA is providing automatic deferments through December 31, 2020. If you have questions about your current loan and whether or not your loan is automatically deferred, please contact your Loan Servicing Office directly. The Loan Servicing Office contact information is listed on your SBA 1201 monthly payment notice.

Visit SBA's small business resource page at SBA.gov/Coronavirus. Here you will find CDC requirements for small businesses how to access SBA resources including EIDL and much, much more. 

For a list of all the SBA partners and organizations that your small business may need such as Chamber of Commerce, SBA Lenders and State Office check out our statewide  Resource Guide.

We want to emphasize that public health is the priority and we’re encouraging small businesses to do their part to keep their employees, customers and themselves healthy by following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most up-to-date information on COVID-19, as well as Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond.

Additionally, SBA’s Arkansas network of resource partners stand ready to assist small businesses across the state in filling out applications. These partners are seeing clients virtually to assist in minimizing impact exposure to COVID-19 and protect our small business communities.

Arkansas Small Business & Technology Development Center
SCORE - Counselors and Mentors for America's Small Businesses
Arkansas Women's Business Center
Startup Junkie Consulting
AR Conductor
Arkansas Procurement Technical Assistance Center - Contracting Assistance
Arkansas Economic Development Commission 

AEDC has compiled a list of programs and resources, and will continue to update this list as additional resources become available at www.arkansasedc.com/covid19
Webinars
New Daily Webinar for Small Businesses Seeking Disaster Assistance Funding

Staff from the Small Business Administration’s Arkansas District Office will share up to date information on the different Disaster Loan Programs, the application process and updates daily. A SCORE representative will share additional resources they are able to provide to assist small businesses in preparing applications and general business assistance.

Webinars will be daily (Monday through Friday) at 2:00 PM CST.  Interested small businesses can sign up by registering here.

Please sign up and encourage your businesses to sign up for direct updates from SBA at SBA Updates. We will send SBA updates twice daily from this distribution list.

For additional information on disaster assistance, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov

Visit SBA.gov/disaster for more information.
 

COTTON CALLS FOR FCC BAN ON CHINA TELECOM
Washington, D.C.
– Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after several executive branch agencies recommended that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revoke and terminate China Telecom (Americas) Corp.’s authority to provide telecommunications services to and from the United States.

“China Telecom has operated freely in the United States for years, despite being caught hijacking U.S. Internet traffic and misdirecting it through China. Allowing Chinese firms to access our telecommunications network is a threat to Americans’ ability to communicate freely and securely. I urge the FCC to heed the unanimous recommendation of six U.S. agencies that China Telecom be banned from operating in the United States.”

Background:
China Telecom is the U.S. subsidiary of a People’s Republic of China (PRC) state-owned telecommunications company. The company has a history of rerouting U.S. data through China.

 

BOOZMAN CALLS FOR FLEXIBILITY TO TEMPORARY AG WORKER PROGRAM TO PROTECT NATION’S FOOD SUPPLY
WASHINGTON—
U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) —a senior member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry—continued advocating for flexibility to agriculture employee programs in order to prevent a labor shortage and maintain an abundant supply of food and fiber in the United States.

In a letter to Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, Boozman and his fellow senators pushed for the development and implementation of guidance to provide flexibility in the H-2A program.

“Our nation is working around the clock to address the COVID-19 crisis, and our farmers are on the front lines of our country’s response,” the senators wrote. “We must ensure that our farmers can continue to rely on the H-2A program during this time.”

“Your agencies have equities in the functioning of our nation’s immigration system, and we urge you to adopt flexibilities that will protect our country’s food supply as you administer the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program during this crisis,” the senators continued.

Specifically, senators asked the departments to develop and implement guidance that will:

  1. Allow approved H-2A workers at the end of a contract period to extend their contracts if they are impacted by travel restrictions imposed by the U.S. government or by the government of their country of origin;
  2. Increase the maximum length of time for H-2A visas holders to stay in the United States to mitigate the effects of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services service center closures during the COVID-19 crisis; and
  3. Allow H-2A employers to share available workers among farms until the Federal government is able to resume normal operations.

The letter was led by Senator David Perdue (R-GA) and in addition to Boozman, signed by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Richard Burr (R-NC), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Jerry Moran (R-KS), James Risch (R-ID), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

The full letter is below:

We write to request that you develop and implement guidance that will provide flexibility in your administration of the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program during the COVID-19 crisis. These processing flexibilities will protect our nation’s food security by ensuring that our farmers have the workers they need. We believe that providing these flexibilities in the H-2A program during this national emergency will allow farmers to continue to produce and maintain an abundant food supply for all Americans.

Many of our country’s farmers rely on the H-2A program for assistance in planting and harvesting operations. By law, our farmers can only receive H-2A workers if they certify that there are not “sufficient able, willing, and qualified U.S. workers available” and that “the employment of an alien in such labor or services will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of workers in the United States similarly employed” (8 U.S.C. §1188 and 20 C.F.R. §655.1290) Through these necessary provisions, farmers will have access to additional workers, which are crucial to ensure timely crop production.

Our nation is working around the clock to address the COVID-19 crisis, and our farmers are on the front lines of our country’s response. The U.S. Department of State has already recognized the vital role our farmers play in our response efforts and has taken steps to provide temporary flexibilities in the H-2A program to make sure our farmers have the workers they need. These steps include:

  • Expanding the categories of H-2 applicants whose applications can be adjudicated without an in-person interview;
  • Allowing consular officers to waive the visa interview requirement for some first-time and returning H-2 applicants who have no potential ineligibility; and
  • Increasing the period in which returning workers may qualify for an interview waiver.
    As the State Department noted in its fact-sheet announcing these changes: “The H-2 program is essential to the economy and food security of the United States and is a national security priority.” We commend the State Department for its efforts to uphold our food security and national security through these flexibilities.

President Trump is using a whole-of-government approach to fight the coronavirus. The State Department’s efforts will go a long way in protecting our nation’s food supply, but we believe that there is still more that needs to be done.

Your agencies have equities in the functioning of our nation’s immigration system, and we urge you to adopt flexibilities that will protect our country’s food supply as you administer the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program during this crisis. These flexibilities will ensure that the components of our country’s immigration system will operate in harmony with each other as the Federal government responds to this crisis.

We specifically ask that your agencies develop and implement guidance that will:

  • Allow approved H-2A workers at the end of a contract period to extend their contracts if they are impacted by travel restrictions imposed by the U.S. government or by the government of their country of origin;
  • Increase the maximum length of time for H-2A visas holders to stay in the United States to mitigate the effects of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services service center closures during the COVID-19 crisis; and
  • Allow H-2A employers to share available workers among farms until the Federal government is able to resume normal operations.

We recognize that this guidance will require significant interagency coordination, and we ask that you prioritize this guidance as you continue your agencies’ work to lead our nation through this crisis. We must ensure that our farmers can continue to rely on the H-2A program during this time. It is important that we do everything we can mitigate the potential food shortage that could occur if these changes are not put into place.

Thank you for your leadership during this critical time as our nation continues to combat the coronavirus. We look forward to working with you to ensure food security in United States.


BOOZMAN PUSHES HHS TO PRIORITIZE RURAL HOSPITALS IN CORONAVIRUS EMERGENCY RESPONSE FUNDING
WASHINGTON—
U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues to urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to consider the needs of rural hospitals and those with high percentages of Medicaid and Medicare patients as HHS distributes the $100 billion healthcare fund included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

In a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan, the senators request an equitable distribution of funding from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund for small rural hospitals, critical access hospitals and other rural providers engaged in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last year rural hospitals closures hit a record high, and 2020 is on pace to be even higher. So far this year we have had eight rural hospitals close, with several more on the brink. About 60 million people, nearly one in five Americans, live in rural areas and depend on their local hospitals for care. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, rural hospitals were already operating on shoestring budgets, and with the cancellation of elective procedures, have a desperate and immediate need for more funding. Therefore, we request you make this funding available immediately to provide relief to our struggling health care providers,” the senators wrote.

The letter—authored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS)—was also signed by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Michael Bennet, (D-CO), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), John Hoeven (R-ND), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Angus King (I-ME), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK).

Read the full letter below:

Dear Secretary Azar and Deputy Secretary Hargan,

Without intervention, COVID-19 will close hundreds of rural hospitals across the country, and tens of thousands of rural patients will lose access to their nearest emergency room. The loss of revenue over the last few weeks, due to the inability to provide non-emergency care, is destabilizing core health services in rural America.  Prior to the pandemic, nearly half of all rural hospitals were operating at a loss and rural closure rates were escalating dramatically.  Today, these already financially fragile hospitals face catastrophic cash shortages.  Many have furloughed staff, instituted massive cuts or are shuttering their doors.

The CARES Act increased funding for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund by $100 billion in order to reimburse eligible health care providers for health care-related expenses or lost revenues that are attributable to COVID-19.  Eligible providers are public entities, Medicare or Medicaid enrolled suppliers and providers, and other for-profit and non-profit entities designated by HHS. The law specified that funding be distributed on a rolling basis through “the most efficient payment systems practicable to provide emergency payment.”

We share significant concerns that the $100 billion provider fund will not be equitably distributed to small rural hospitals, critical access hospitals and other rural providers who are in grave need of help.  We, therefore, ask that any formula to allocate this fund include the following metrics:

  1. A 20 percent Rural Benchmark in the $100 billion provider fund. Without equitable formula guidelines, we believe it will be difficult for the rural providers to access the $100 billion provider grant program. 
  2. Priority should be granted to facilities that have been significantly affected by COVID-19 preparation. Rural facilities have lost 50 percent to 80 percent of revenue due to the elimination of non-emergency services as they prepare for a COVID-19 surge. Access to funds is critical. If they do not receive relief, most will close by the time the surge hits their rural community.
  3. Priority should be granted for facilities that provide care for a disproportionally high percentage of Medicare and Medicaid patients.
  4. Priority should be granted for facilities that provide care for populations with above average senior populations or co-morbidities that are particularly vulnerable to complications from COVID-19 and for populations in areas with limited access to health infrastructure.  

Last year rural hospitals closures hit a record high, and 2020 is on pace to be even higher.  So far this year we have had eight rural hospitals close, with several more on the brink.  About 60 million people, nearly one in five Americans, live in rural areas and depend on their local hospitals for care. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, rural hospitals were already operating on shoe-string budgets, and with the cancellation of elective procedures, have a desperate and immediate need for more funding.

Therefore, we request you make this funding available immediately to provide relief to our struggling health care providers. We also request you provide Members of Congress with a personal briefing by teleconference on this matter no later than April 13, 2020. 

Thank you for your attention to ensuring the health and well-being of patients in rural America. We welcome to opportunity to discuss your efforts addressing our concerns

 

April 09, 2020

AAA EXTENDS “COVID-19 DEAD PERIOD” FOR SCHOOLS
Due to the continued spreading of the COVID-19, and after the announcement of the closure of Arkansas schools through the end of the school year, the AAA will extend the “Covid-19 Dead Period” for all AAA member schools through May 30, 2020. 

During this time, coaches shall be prohibited from engaging in any type of face to face contact whether it be practicing, training, weightlifting, tryouts, competition or travel. Further, school athletic facilities will be closed during this period. The AAA will work with the Department of Health, Department of Education, and the Governor's office later in May to announce plans following May 30. 

We continue to encourage coaches to use technology to keep up with their students during this tough time. 

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON PRESS CONFERENCE – APRIL 08. 2020
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson began the most recent COVID-19 press conference on Wednesday afternoon by acknowledging the states Jewish community and the celebration of pass-over. The Governor wished peace and blessings upon those who are unable to gather physically for the religious holiday due to Covid-19 regulations.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arkansas has officially surpassed 1,000, as the Governor reported that there are now 1,023 residents who have contracted the illness. The death toll still stands at 18 and one new county has reported cases, with the addition of Franklin County. A breakdown of the locations in which covid-19 deaths have occurred was provided during the press conference as well, as it was reported that the majority of the residents who have passed away from the coronavirus resided in Central Arkansas. It was noted that none of the Arkansas Covid-19 deaths have happened in the Southwest Arkansas region. Though positive cases continue to increase, there are now 208 patients who have recovered. 

As far as financial support goes, the Governor announced additional funds are on the way for small business owners around the state seeking bridge loans. The funds are designed to help struggling companies with support, including overhead and payroll needs. 

Hutchinson also reported that unemployment claims have already exceeded 110,000.

Secretary of Commerce and Arkansas Economic Development Council Executive Director Mike Preston addressed the unemployment issue and announced that a new system must be implemented in order to accommodate the self employed, contractors and gig economy workers throughout the state. Preston says extra staff members have been called upon in order to tackle the unemployment issue with an "all hands on deck" approach.

Arkansans recently laid off or unable to pursue self-employment opportunities due to Covid-19 can seek unemployment assistance online at the Arkansas Department of Workforce Website https://www.dws.arkansas.gov/unemployment/

Again, there are now 1,023 residents who have contracted the illness. The death toll stands at 18 and one new county has reported cases with the addition of Franklin County. Though positive cases continue to increase, there are now 208 people who have recovered. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned. 

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN TO HOST VIRTUAL TOWN-HALL WITH SECRETARY MIKE PRESTON REGARDING COVID-19
 LITTLE ROCK – Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin released the following public schedule for April 9:

WHAT: Lieutenant Governor Griffin will host a live town-hall streaming on Facebook/YouTube with Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston regarding the economic impact of COVID-19. 

WHEN: April 9, 6:00 PM

WHERE: Virtual town-hall hosted on Lieutenant Governor Griffin’s Facebook page and streaming on YouTube. (Note: Lieutenant Governor Griffin will host this from his office in the Arkansas State Capitol.)

Live stream available on: Facebook or YouTube

About Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin
He was elected lieutenant governor of Arkansas on November 4, 2014, and was re-elected for his second four-year term on November 6, 2018. From 2011-2015, Griffin served as the 24th representative of Arkansas’s Second Congressional District. For the 113th Congress, he was a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means while also serving as a Deputy Whip for the Majority. In the 112th Congress, he served as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the House Committee on the Judiciary.

Griffin is a graduate of Magnolia High School, Hendrix College in Conway and Tulane Law School in New Orleans, and attended graduate school at Oxford University. Griffin has served as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps, for over 22 years and currently holds the rank of colonel. In 2005, Griffin was mobilized to active duty as an Army prosecutor at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and served with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in Mosul, Iraq. He is currently serving as the Commander of the 134th Legal Operations Detachment (LOD) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Prior to his current post, Griffin served as a senior legislative advisor to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness at the Pentagon. Colonel Griffin holds a master's degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. He also served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas and Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Political Affairs for President George W. Bush. Griffin lives in Little Rock with his wife Elizabeth, a Camden native, and their three children.
 

DELEGATION APPLAUDS HHS FOR AWARDING OVER $10.5 MILLION IN CORONAVIRUS ASSISTANCE TO HEALTH CENTERS IN ARKANSAS WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding federal funds to health centers across Arkansas to help facilitate the coronavirus response in our communities. 

The grants—totaling $10,559,850—were awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to 12 health care centers in Arkansas. The funding comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which recently became law with the support of the Arkansas delegation. It will be used to support health centers' coronavirus detection, prevention, diagnostic and treatment efforts. The awards will also help maintain or increase capacity and staff.

“These health centers will be vital to our efforts to successfully respond to the coronavirus outbreak, particularly in our rural communities. We appreciate how swiftly Secretary Alex Azar acted to award these grants so that we can immediately get these much-needed resources to our frontline defenders,” the delegation said.

The following Arkansas health centers received funding from HRSA:

HEALTH CENTER GRANTEE

CITY

STATE

FUNDING AMOUNT

1ST CHOICE HEALTHCARE, INC.

CORNING

AR

$851,165

ARCARE

AUGUSTA

AR

$1,716,035

BOSTON MOUNTAIN RURAL HEALTH CENTER, INC.

MARSHALL

AR

$835,895

CABUN RURAL HEALTH SERVICES, INC.

HAMPTON

AR

$662,465

EAST ARKANSAS FAMILY HEALTH CENTER, INC.

WEST MEMPHIS

AR

$902,690

HEALTHY CONNECTIONS INC

MENA

AR

$738,380

JEFFERSON COMPREHENSIVE CARE SYSTEM, INC.

PINE BLUFF

AR

$676,730

LEE COUNTY COOPERATIVE CLINIC

MARIANNA

AR

$558,620

MAINLINE HEALTH SYSTEMS INC

PORTLAND

AR

$784,805

MID-DELTA HEALTH SYSTEMS INC

CLARENDON

AR

$557,180

RIVER VALLEY PRIMARY CARE SERVICES

RATCLIFF

AR

$829,670

ST. FRANCIS HOUSE NWA, INC.

SPRINGDALE

AR

$1,446,215

APRIL 8, 2020

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: VIRTUAL MEETINGS CAN PUT ARKANSANS AT RISK
Rutledge says, ‘ensure these necessary online meeting platforms take every action to protect users’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansans have adapted to a new environment where social distancing has become our new normal, and working from home brings a new set of challenges. Virtual meetings provide an essential mode of communication for work and school, but bad actors have also found opportunities to exploit vulnerabilities in the virtual environment to steal or extort money from individuals and businesses.

“Having fought online predators, I know that they seek to exploit any weakness in our security, whether targeting children or businesses,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As Attorney General, I’ve been working to ensure these necessary online meeting platforms take every action to protect users as we all do our best to get through this current crisis.”

Attorney General Rutledge has provided these tips for Arkansans using virtual platforms to connect with each other while social distancing.

Utilize tools provided by the online meeting platform to restrict access to virtual meetings, classrooms and conference calls, including the use of passwords if possible;

Be wary of suspicious emails inviting you to click links or join meetings or to download shared documents;
Be cautious of advertisements or emails purporting to be from telework software vendors;
Join online meetings only if prearranged with a person with whom a preexisting business or personal relationship exists;
Select trusted and reputable network software vendors;
Don’t give personally-identifiable information in online meeting venues.

For more information, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 oroag@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov
 

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN AND UAMS ANNOUNCE DONATION OF 100,000 HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE TABLETS FROM AMNEAL PHARMACEUTICALS FOR TREATMENT OF CHRONIC ILLNESSES, INCLUDING COVID-19
LITTLE ROCK
 – Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin, in partnership with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., announced a donation of Hydroxychloroquine by Amneal Pharmaceuticals in response to the COVID-19 health emergency. Hydroxychloroquine is being used in some cases to treat COVID-19, but it is commonly used and recommended by numerous health-related organizations as a treatment for other chronic illnesses as outlined in the March 31st letter from the American College of Rheumatology. Amneal donated 100,000 hydroxychloroquine tablets through Lt. Governor Tim Griffin to UAMS.

Lt. Governor Tim Griffin issued the following statement:
"On behalf of Arkansas, I thank Amneal for their generosity in this time of crisis. Like so many other businesses across our nation, Amneal is stepping up to help those impacted by COVID-19 and demonstrating how we must work together to combat this pandemic. I also want to thank the law firm of Franklin Scott Conway who facilitated this donation and is working with Amneal pro bono. I am encouraged by the stories of businesses and individuals helping each other during these challenging times. Arkansans are strong and resilient, and thanks to our Arkansas Grit, we will get through this and be stronger than ever."

UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., issued the following statement:
"We are very grateful to Lt. Governor Griffin, who has been and continues to be a tireless advocate for UAMS and other health care institutions throughout the state.  In a time when hydroxychloroquine is in short supply due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his efforts benefit all Arkansas patients who need this drug including those who have lupus and similar autoimmune disorders. We are humbled by his support."

Chirag and Chintu Patel, Co-Chief Executive Officers of Amneal Pharmaceuticals issued the following statement: 
"We are humbled to work with Lt. Governor Tim Griffin to provide this donation to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences for their use in treating chronic illnesses, including COVID-19. All of us at Amneal are committed to supporting our communities in the global fight against COVID-19."

Background
For more information on Hydroxychloroquine, please see the following background and information: 

Centers for Disease Control

Letter from the American College of Rheumatology: Page 1Page 2Page 3

Fact Sheet from the American College of Rheumatology


BOOZMAN PRAISES ARKANSAS AGRICULTURE COMMUNITY FOR 'RISING TO THE OCCASION
WASHINGTON—
U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR)—a senior member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry—praised the work of the Arkansas agricultural industry as farmers and ranchers continue to provide a safe and abundant supply of food despite challenges facing the industry. 

“Americans depend on our nation’s farmers to grow the food, fuel and fiber we depend on daily. That need becomes much more pronounced in times of crisis which creates additional strain on those who provide the goods and supplies necessary for everyday life,” Boozman wrote in a blog post.

The senator honored the Arkansas agricultural heroes who are “rising to the occasion” in a video message. 

Boozman is also applauding the critical work of individuals keeping the supply chain running including truckers and grocers. The senator shared his support for these critical workers in a conversation with President Trump whotweeted his thanks and offered praise for the vital role these men and women play at his April 4, 2020 press conference

In support of the agricultural community, Boozman joined a bipartisan group of senators pressing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help ensure the continuity of our country’s food supply and support for rural communities.

 

RUTLEDGE'S STATEMENT ON TEXAS ORDER PROHIBITING ELECTIVE SURGERIES
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s decisio
n upholding Texas’s Executive Order prohibiting elective procedures—including abortions—to preserve personal protective equipment in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rutledge signed on to a 16-state brief in support of Texas’s law.

“Our country is experiencing an unprecedented pandemic and states have the duty to conserve resources like personal protective equipment to ensure we deal with this immediate crisis,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Like all others who perform elective procedures, abortion practitioners must do their part to help us slow the growth of this terrible disease and save Arkansans’ lives.”

 

APRIL 7, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S CORONA UPDATE – APRIL 07, 2020
During the most recent Covid-19 Press Conference held by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson Tuesday, it was reported that the state has now documented 946 positive cases of the cornonavirus. Two new counties have also been added to the list of Arkansas areas reporting cases of the illness. Clay and Logan counties are the latest in the state to announce residents with positive covid-19 cases. The death toll has also risen up to 18, as two more people have died from the virus as of Tuesday. Both of the latest coronavirus deaths in Arkansas were reported to be citizens over the age of 65.

Though 74 patients currently remain hospitalized from covid-19 in the state, 152 have now reached recovery status. Recovery is defined as any person who previously tested positive for the illness, but has now made it to 7 full days without symptoms and 3 days without a fever.

An area of extra concern this week lies within a Forest City Federal Correctional City where 24 inmates are reported to have contracted covid-19, along with 5 staff members. The Center For Disease Control is set to deploy assistance to handle the outbreak.

Although Forrest City has required additional attention in handling the pandemic, it was the Mayor of the state's capital city who joined the Governor for Tuesday's press conference. Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott used the time to emphasize the importance of partnerships between local government and state officials during this difficult time.

Mayor Scott's point on enforcement of covid-19 safety regulations was supported by a statement Arkansas State Police Chief Colonel Bill Bryant made. Bryant acknowledged that enforcement action will be taken against those who disregard the new directives.

No specific repercussions for violations of new health and safety mandates were announced by Colonel Bryant. However, Bryant reports that state police will be readily available to support city and county law enforcement in enforcing the needed health precautions and safety mandates going forward.

Again, 946 total positive cases of the corononavirus have now been reported in the natural state. Clay and Logan counties are the latest in Arkansas to report positive covid-19 cases. The death toll has also risen up to 18, as two more people have died from the virus as of Tuesday. Both residents were reported to be citizens over the age of 65. Though 74 patients currently remain hospitalized from covid-19 in the state, 152 have now reached recovery status.

We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

THE DISTRICT COURT OF CAMDEN AND OUACHITA COUNTY COURT DATES UPDATE
Additional dates of court sessions canceled due to corona virus recommendations Per Arkansas Supreme Court Order. All district court sessions have been cancelled through May 1, 2020 .

Dates rescheduled to listed below:
Wednesday City Trials April 8, 2020 has been rescheduled to June 10, 2020.

Thursday County Trials April 9, 2020 has been rescheduled to June 11, 2020

Wednesday City Arraignment April 15, 2020 has been rescheduled to June 3, 2020.

Thursday County Arraignment April 16, 2020 has been rescheduled to June 18, 2020

Civil/Small Claims April 23, 2020 will send notices of court date.

All Court Sessions Begin at 9:am. For more information call 870-836-0331.

 

COVID-19: A CENSUS CALL TO ACTION
Virus reaffirms need for accurate and representative count in Arkansas
By Kara Wilkins
In the last few weeks, Americans have experienced unprecedented change in their daily lives. For some of us, this rapid shift in routine and lack of contact with our family, friends and colleagues has left us feeling discombobulated and, in certain cases, helpless. Many of us have expressed a desire to help those in need—even if it’s a small act from the comfort of our homes. During this time of anxiety for our state, and our nation, there is one thing we can all do to support our neighbors: complete the 2020 U.S. Census.

Right now, we are seeing our state grapple with the rapid spread of COVID-19. Under the strong leadership of Governor Asa Hutchinson and other elected officials, Arkansas has implemented extraordinary measures to help residents, companies, nonprofits and other organizations weather this national emergency. The state has expedited unemployment benefits, freed up working capital to provide small businesses with bridge loans and suspended SNAP work requirements to get food into the hands of the hungry. These actions, among the many others Arkansas has taken, will help many survive in a time of uncertainty. But they will require significant, and sustained, financial resources.

COVID-19 or not, Arkansas depends on funding from the federal government to succeed. That’s why participation in the U.S. Census is of upmost importance. The information gathered in the census determines the amount of funding we receive for education, healthcare, infrastructure and other essential services. Without these federal dollars, our state would not have the resources it needs to operate efficiently, in the height of crises or during times of normalcy. Even a one percent undercount of our state’s population, or approximately 30,000 people, could result in a loss of nearly $1 billion in funding.

To date, 140 million American households have received their first invitations in the mail to participate in the 2020 U.S. Census. While we are all at home over the next few weeks, we should visit My2020Census.Gov to complete these forms. Once we’re done, I challenge all of us to tell 20 friends, family members and fellow Arkansans to do it, too. With only 10 questions, it is simple and quick. And, in a time when we’re all practicing social distancing, it requires no human-to-human interaction. In fact, as the U.S. Census Bureau recently noted, “It has never been easier to respond on your own, whether online, over the phone or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker.” 

COVID-19 may have temporarily limited our abilities to go about our daily lives. But we cannot allow it to stunt our state’s participation in the 2020 U.S. Census. Now more than ever, this virus reminds us of how important it is to ensure an accurate and representative count. By answering a few simple questions, we can help Arkansas receive the federal funding it needs to thrive, now and in the future.

Kara Wilkins is the coordinator of Arkansas Counts, a statewide, community-led initiative of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, Arkansas Impact Philanthropy, Arkansas United and the Arkansas Public Policy Panel. For more information, visit arcounts.org.

SENATORS JONES AND COTTON CALL ON TREASURY TO EXPEDITE DIRECT RELIEF PAYMENTS BY USING DEBIT CARDS FOR ELIGIBLE AMERICANS
“Direct Express” debit cards are safer and easier to distribute and use than paper checks
Cards would be limited to eligible Americans who have not signed up for IRS direct deposits, don’t have a bank account, or who require a paper check
BIRMINGHAM – U.S. Senators Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who serve together on the Senate Banking Committee, today called on the U.S. Department of the Treasury to expedite the CARES Act direct assistance payments by making them available on debit cards for certain eligible groups of Americans.

After press reports indicated that many of the paper check payments would not be mailed until April 24th, the senators wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin requesting that the Treasury Department utilize its already-established Direct Express debit card program to disburse these payments as a faster and safer alternative to paper checks.

“It is our understanding that payments made electronically can be distributed quickly, but the Internal Revenue System (IRS) must print paper checks and mail them separately. As a result, we encourage the Treasury Department to offer a targeted group of Americans the option of receiving their direct assistance payment on the Direct Express debit cards, which are used for other federal benefits like Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits,” the senators wrote.

They continued, “While a slight lag between Congressional action and the support arriving to workers is understandable, the Treasury Department must act expeditiously to get these funds to their intended recipients.”

Full text of the letter can be found below. 

April 7, 2020
The Honorable Steven T. Mnuchin
Secretary of the Treasury
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary Mnuchin,

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act included economic relief to Americans in the form of direct cash payments to provide support during this unprecedented public health and economic crisis. In order to provide this much needed assistance directly and quickly, we request the Treasury Department utilize its Direct Express debit card as one method, at the option of the individual, for disbursing these payments as an alternative to paper checks.

We were alarmed by the Washington Post report on April 2, 2020, that “$30 million in paper checks for millions of other Americans won’t start being sent out until April 24, as the government lacks their banking information. And some of those checks won’t reach people until September.” Americans should not have to wait five months to receive their checks.

While a slight lag between Congressional action and the support arriving to workers is understandable, the Treasury Department must act expeditiously to get these funds to their intended recipients. These direct assistance payments are aimed at assisting American workers in covering the cost of essentials household items, including rent and mortgage payments, outstanding bills, and food to feed their families.

It is our understanding that payments made electronically can be distributed quickly, but the Internal Revenue System (IRS) must print paper checks and mail them separately. As a result, we encourage the Treasury Department to offer a targeted group of Americans the option of receiving their direct assistance payment on the Direct Express debit cards, which are used for other federal benefits like Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits. Using debit cards could be limited to Americans eligible for this program not already signed up for direct deposit, have a bank account, or require a paper check.

As Americans across the country practice social distancing to contain the spread of COVID-19, we support delivering benefits automatically to as many people as possible and request that debit cards be offered as an option to distribute the assistance payment. Debit cards are a safer method of delivery than paper checks. Paper checks will force Americans to leave their homes to deposit the funds and can be a source of fraud. We appreciate your consideration of this request to keep Americans safe during these challenging times.

Sincerely,
Doug Jones                                                                             Tom Cotton    
United States Senator                                                             United States Senator 

 

UPDATES FROM THE SAU ASBTDC (04/06/2020):
SBA Coronavirus Pandemic Disaster Loans Comparison Tool:
This guide is a courtesy tool of America's SBDC. Use it to determine which programs best meet the capital needs of your business. Refer to it regularly for updates. Get the guide here   https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/12xv4xcsg_9xoVeEE_Y1j2sicNbCvl2GAVinSowU2zgg/edit#gid=702828758

Paycheck Protection Program Update:
The PPP is an SBA guaranteed loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. SBA Paycheck Protection Program Web Page https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program-ppp

For a top-line overview of the program CLICK HERE https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP%20--%20Overview.pdf

If you're a borrower, more information can be found HERE https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP--Fact-Sheet.pdf>

PPP Borrower Application Form (Updated 4/2/20) https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/2020-04/PPP%20Borrower%20Application%20Form.pdf

Paycheck Protection Program - Interim Final Rule https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP--IFRN%20FINAL.pdf

Items of Note:
*   Payroll Documents - (part 2a)
*   These can be payroll processor records, payroll tax filings, or Form 1099MISC, or income and expenses from a sole proprietorship.
*   For borrowers that do not have any such documentation, the borrower must provide other supporting documentation, such as bank records, sufficient to demonstrate the qualifying payroll amount.
*   Independent contractors have the ability to apply for a PPP loan on their own so they do not count for purposes of a borrower's PPP loan forgiveness (part 2h)
*   At least 75 percent of the PPP loan proceeds shall be used for payroll costs (part 2r)
*   Unforgiven portions of PPP loans will be financed with a 2 year term and 1% interest (part 2i and 2j)
*   You will not have to make any payments for six months following the date of disbursement of the loan. However, interest will continue to accrue on PPP loans during this six-month deferment. (part 2n)
*   A business may apply for both the EIDL and PPP as long as funds are not used for the same purpose. (part 2riiv)

SBA EIDL and Advance:
The SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan (up to $2 million) provides vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance funds (up to $10,000) will be made available within days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid.

To apply for a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan and/or EIDL Advance, click here. https://linkprotect.cudasvc.com/url?a=https%3a%2f%2flnks.gd%2fl%2feyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJidWxsZXRpbl9saW5rX2lkIjoxMDAsInVyaSI6ImJwMjpjbGljayIsImJ1bGxldGluX2lkIjoiMjAyMDAzMzAuMTk0ODI4OTEiLCJ1cmwiOiJodHRwczovL2NvdmlkMTlyZWxpZWYuc2JhLmdvdi8_dXRtX21lZGl1bT1lbWFpbCZ1dG1fc291cmNlPWdvdmRlbGl2ZXJ5Iy8ifQ.st8MABVWrs5X0dGF3ppxUC0A92MPfcGNEJY2nL1rFB0%2fbr%2f76785027406-l&c=E,1,eReRsZ887QcJeRUr84o68Z7_iKfCT3WfNas3rBP7CYIEqxbHxPipll6JMKoX-AKR4tysE1o4WtyoCWJm8tWacXZjKeQ39sbV1dkqGLjYBKaO63ksAg,,&typo=1>

If you have questions about this application or would like to check the status of your application, please contact the SBA Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov<mailto:DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov

WEBINAR: Applying for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans
Date: 4/7/2020
Time: 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM (CDT)
Sign Up https://asbtdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/signup/70370827

WEBINAR: Applying for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans
Date: 4/9/2020
Time: 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM (CDT)
Sign Up https://asbtdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/signup/70370826>

SBA Express Bridge Loans
The Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program https://www.sba.gov/document/support--express-bridge-loan-pilot-program-guide allows small businesses that have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork. If a small business has an urgent need for cash while waiting for a decision and disbursement on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, it may qualify for an SBA Express Disaster Bridge Loan. You'll find an Express Bridge Loan Lender via SBA's Lender Match Tool http://www.sba.gov/LenderMatch or by connecting to the Little Rock District Office of the SBA https://www.sba.gov/offices/district/ar/little-rock

SBA Loan Deferments
Deferments for SBA-Serviced Loans - For existing SBA borrowers with loans serviced by SBA that were in "regular servicing'" status on March 1, 2020, SBA is providing an automatic deferment of principal and interest. For additional details, see the SBA Procedural Notice http://www.sbtdc.org/coronavirus/documents/Procedural%20Notice%20for%20SBA%20Loans%20-%20COVID%2019.pdf

A Word on Fraud:
SBA does not initiate contact on either 7a or disaster loans or grants.  If you are proactively contacted by someone claiming to be from the SBA, suspect fraud. Expect follow-up contact only after YOU have filed an application. Report Fraud - Report any suspected fraud to OIG's Hotline at 800-767-0385 or online at, https://www.sba.gov/about-sba/oversight-advocacy/office-inspector-general/office-inspector-general-hotline<https://linkprotect.cudasvc.com/url?a=https%3a%2f%2flnks.gd%2fl%2feyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJidWxsZXRpbl9saW5rX2lkIjoxMDIsInVyaSI6ImJwMjpjbGljayIsImJ1bGxldGluX2lkIjoiMjAyMDAzMzAuMTk1MTI3MjEiLCJ1cmwiOiJodHRwczovL3d3dy5zYmEuZ292L2Fib3V0LXNiYS9vdmVyc2lnaHQtYWR2b2NhY3kvb2ZmaWNlLWluc3BlY3Rvci1nZW5lcmFsL29mZmljZS1pbnNwZWN0b3ItZ2VuZXJhbC1ob3RsaW5lP3V0bV9tZWRpdW09ZW1haWwmdXRtX3NvdXJjZT1nb3ZkZWxpdmVyeSJ9.CBYuKxcOxeXqGrhLX2rI8A7QcCayxdXDOh2Nk6PrMUA%2fbr%2f76816435028-l&c=E,1,J7m53ougqgJQz0-AasL9xCP4NVwyOFIsMigLZfEXlI315ZMOX02qwcI8BsEHKgyZeT6UUC7AL5Vv3H2S0DbYV0lv6Wv75VFHwiD3r_njawnXZp1_&typo=1

State Support: Quick Action Loan Program Gov. Asa Hutchinson has created a $12 million Quick Action Loan Program https://www.arkansasedc.com/docs/default-source/covid-19/quick-action-loan-program-summary-(2).pdf?sfvrsn=cbf1c1f_4. Eligible companies may apply for a loan or loan guaranty of up to $250,000. Direct lending is also available Small- to medium-sized companies that are in the supply chain of essential goods and services, including health care, food manufacturing and logistics, will be prioritized.

You can contact the AEDC about this program via email mailto:COVID19.businessinfo@arkansasedc.com or by phone at (501) 682-1121 or toll-free at (800) ARKANSAS. The AEDC's also has a website set up specifically related to COVID-19 https://www.arkansasedc.com/covid19

WEBINAR: Applying for the Quick Action Loan Program
Date: 4/7/2020
Time: 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM (CDT)
Sign Up https://asbtdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/signup/70370825

Human Resources News:
The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has now posted the Webinar: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) https://dolwhd.cosocloud.com/pawkgwfawza0/?proto=true. You will need to download Adobe Connect to view the webinar. To review other FFCRA from the Wage and Hour Division of the DOL, click here https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic

Webinars and Resources:
KIVA Loan Platform
Kiva is an international nonprofit, founded in 2005 in San Francisco, with a mission to expand financial access to help underserved communities thrive They have expanded eligibility, increased maximum loan amount and implemented a grace period. Find out more about the organization and apply for a loan here. https://www.kiva.org/blog/support-local-businesses-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic

ASBTDC Webinars
Recordings of webinars from the ASBTDC COVID-19 "Keep Calm and Small Business On" series will be available on this YouTube playlist. This includes webinars about the EIDL application process: COVID-19 Webinars https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLfRRto7FvXoYDI86wAKJU_WQ8r5ihZFiL

Cash in a Crisis: SBA Programs and Other Funding Options Tuesday, April 7 http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001s0nWgu2X6jK8Ehmur-T7SBS9HIXjZk5ujHc2ZHMryO5MQNr7-qm8pwQytDfyCz-C0VOjLJbUvbhePdre0ff04pcRab8ZlvVYyZDtt5fun_VxFdlple-eSjE8WuzMCgosCzsCxXhxdLxYQ8RBtTe_qu30aXCQWyhLUl8IH4eKkO87z7jS_gMDDA==&c=iPX4o8q7UjLc46U-fo6OUB7FF_R6keNqJ5wI_KjZ7Tu_poFUmY2lFw==&ch=7CZF5x638uSS7wOZBeX2nD8tAwfWU6Uc7HxQrttX6SfZ1Mg4XLUofQ==> or Thursday, April 9<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001s0nWgu2X6jK8Ehmur-T7SBS9HIXjZk5ujHc2ZHMryO5MQNr7-qm8pwQytDfyCz-CqwFACRtHVNH5rgTARlmzamRlWjqiO1JgTALFP2RWE9RgTk0FIaU78QO_K25BIRHaPj_WdTInSkhHHbStd5IsBhVWVcaPXsejaGFzEoxWZqWe019GsOVjwQ==&c=iPX4o8q7UjLc46U-fo6OUB7FF_R6keNqJ5wI_KjZ7Tu_poFUmY2lFw==&ch=7CZF5x638uSS7wOZBeX2nD8tAwfWU6Uc7HxQrttX6SfZ1Mg4XLUofQ==>

Applying for the Quick Action Loan Program with Arkansas Economic Development Commission Tuesday, April 7 http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001s0nWgu2X6jK8Ehmur-T7SBS9HIXjZk5ujHc2ZHMryO5MQNr7-qm8pwQytDfyCz-ClmeYFW8V2qVmQFI6XoTqIaE0dMDciLpLFlLEtcw8VgaDIu7tcBMAjcd4q4_nvjDipBSa9h8n4Q83mVuOk0gpxUDIYYKk2ECZgLv2YCz8SQUyZ2BhBRGA5A==&c=iPX4o8q7UjLc46U-fo6OUB7FF_R6keNqJ5wI_KjZ7Tu_poFUmY2lFw==&ch=7CZF5x638uSS7wOZBeX2nD8tAwfWU6Uc7HxQrttX6SfZ1Mg4XLUofQ==

Budgeting During an Economic Downturn
Wednesday, April 8 http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001s0nWgu2X6jK8Ehmur-T7SBS9HIXjZk5ujHc2ZHMryO5MQNr7-qm8pwQytDfyCz-Cu7ff6pJ2lc-S4pBxzE3O-JLNkUChdErsmUAYwZfwlgKWljLcN7VKAXDSEkkxc62O_DnoPABPX3LesQfq5p4nLuGF2GqEzYbsdphmf8Lg2sDYX_yWvDCMjQ==&c=iPX4o8q7UjLc46U-fo6OUB7FF_R6keNqJ5wI_KjZ7Tu_poFUmY2lFw==&ch=7CZF5x638uSS7wOZBeX2nD8tAwfWU6Uc7HxQrttX6SfZ1Mg4XLUofQ==

Live Q&A with ASBTDC and Other Experts
Wednesday, April 8 http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001s0nWgu2X6jK8Ehmur-T7SBS9HIXjZk5ujHc2ZHMryO5MQNr7-qm8pwQytDfyCz-CvBLtAKuSkbAb_QtHE6Xsg5d3sGD5kwb2ZuU57XhTZavVmz2U2dXJmLmR5oYBY-QXjzVQfGNwd73Lu8WJPFsI47bO00dyJZshDfyAzS1f1Aw3gt7286yAyA==&c=iPX4o8q7UjLc46U-fo6OUB7FF_R6keNqJ5wI_KjZ7Tu_poFUmY2lFw==&ch=7CZF5x638uSS7wOZBeX2nD8tAwfWU6Uc7HxQrttX6SfZ1Mg4XLUofQ==

Connecting to Capital
Thursday, April 9 http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001s0nWgu2X6jK8Ehmur-T7SBS9HIXjZk5ujHc2ZHMryO5MQNr7-qm8pwQytDfyCz-C8GoHdPpIoUJqp8SPY5m18c8PN2CUcwcnppS8KPaw1ITkQURtSwF8NlmXWpefdtwjr1ePckTUliZhgD0WAjcXKZc0fzEi0Py8K8q_c4hMppOmfBhnIu7Lkg==&c=iPX4o8q7UjLc46U-fo6OUB7FF_R6keNqJ5wI_KjZ7Tu_poFUmY2lFw==&ch=7CZF5x638uSS7wOZBeX2nD8tAwfWU6Uc7HxQrttX6SfZ1Mg4XLUofQ==

Walmart Webinars
Walmart is hosting a series of webinars in early April (starting Thursday and Friday) to invited U.S. small businesses to supply Walmart Stores and its e-commerce platform.  This is a great opportunity for small businesses looking to reach new customers in the current environment. Learn More! https://gcc01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fengage.walmart-jump.com%2F&data=02%7C01%7CTraci.Giddens%40sba.gov%7C191a8fab3d8d42ebd40308d7d5a7597f%7C3c89fd8a7f684667aa1541ebf2208961%7C1%7C0%7C637212787938975287&sdata=TH%2BulE%2FOgo8EYldbtU0%2FdklfOnrx870b%2FciKSnni%2FqA%3D&reserved=0

Find Upcoming Webinars Here. https://gcc01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eventbrite.com%2Fe%2Fwalmarts-pre-open-call-webinar-tickets-98818245031&data=02%7C01%7CTraci.Giddens%40sba.gov%7C191a8fab3d8d42ebd40308d7d5a7597f%7C3c89fd8a7f684667aa1541ebf2208961%7C1%7C0%7C637212787938975287&sdata=cb75QqY3dTjfKDBiJv12k9e5wpayir35xar8Bgb4CQA%3D&reserved=0>

We are also posting things regularly to our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/SAU.SBTDC/.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out! Again, stay in touch with your local banker and keep them apprised of any financial challenges.

Best Regards,
Kristen Cribb | Business Consultant
Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center Southern Arkansas University | David F. Rankin College of Business
870.235.5033 (o) | 870.836.2210 (o) | 501.438.9422 (c) | kbcribb@saumag.edu<mailto:kbcribb@saumag.edu>

*The health and safety of our clients, employees, and community are our primary concern. In order to provide continued services, SAU ASBTDC staff are working virtually. We are available to assist customers by phone, Zoom conferencing, or email.
 

RUTLEDGE TO PARTNER WITH UA LITTLE ROCK TRACKING FALSE COVID-19 RELATED WEBSITES AND SCAMS ONLINE
Says, ‘identifying and putting a stop to fake websites that are spreading misinformation’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced a partnership with the University of Arkansas Little Rock (UA Little Rock) and the Arkansas Research Alliance to identify and track COVID-related scam websites and social media disinformation that have rapidly spread with the pandemic. Sites that spread lies, offer fake cures and sell false treatments undermine Arkansas’s efforts to combat this disease and present a hazard to consumers’ physical, financial and online safety. Rutledge is dedicated to protecting consumers and the legitimate business community from these online threats. This collaboration offers a new avenue to quickly identify the bad actors who want to spread misinformation or steal consumers’ money or identity.

“During this phase of the pandemic where fear is peaking, it is extremely important to stop bad actors that are using the internet to offer misinformation, sell fake tests, cures or solicit contributions to fake COVID charities,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This partnership will ensure we are quickly identifying and putting a stop to fake websites that are spreading misinformation with the purpose of stealing from Arkansans.”

Rutledge’s partnership will include working with Dr. Nitin Agarwal, fellow of the Arkansas Research Alliance and a Distinguished Professor of Information Science at UA Little Rock. Dr. Agarwal and his team of researchers at COSMOS study online behavior to identify and combat threats. They have developed a website that can help people identify, understand, and report misinformation, fake websites, and scams regarding COVID-19, which is published at http://cosmos.ualr.edu/covid-19 for the general public to view. Dr. Agarwal is directing several projects with funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Army Research Office (ARO), U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR), U.S. Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) and U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

“Working with Attorney General’s office gives us the opportunity to apply our internationally renowned research on malicious cyber behaviors right here at home,” said Dr. Agarwal. “We are confident that this partnership will open avenues for exciting research opportunities and spark innovation.”

To find out more information about COVID scams and fake websites, or file a consumer complaint visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.
 

SURVEY: ABRUPT TURN IN SMALL BUSINESS OPTIMISM ENDS 39-MONTH HISTORIC RUN 
LITTLE ROCK (April 7, 2020) — The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index fell 8.1 points in March to 96.4, the largest monthly decline in the survey’s history. Nine of the 10 Index components declined, which is evidence that economic disruptions are escalating on Main Street as small businesses struggle to keep their doors open. The small business sector is anticipating and bracing for continued economic disruptions going forward. 

“Small businesses are living through the coronavirus pandemic right now and it’s hard to say what the severity of the disruption will be, but we do know they’re feeling the urgency,” said NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg. “It is vital that these businesses have access to federal funds that are made available through the CARES Act to keep the doors open on Main Street.” 

State-specific information isn't available, but NFIB State Director Sylvester Smith said, “Social distancing is affecting small businesses everywhere. A lot of our members say they've had to close temporarily. Hopefully, the federal funds will allow them to reopen once the risk is over.”     

The financial markets saw substantial change in March, with the stock market indices losing 22% of their value and jobless claims rising to a record 10 million in the last two weeks of the month. The NFIB survey collected the majority of responses in the first half of the month, so the sharp decline in employment is not reflected in the March survey data. 

The main takeaways from the March survey include: 

   • The NFIB Uncertainty Index rose 12 points in March to 92, the highest level since March 2017.
   • Reports of better business conditions in the next six months declined 17 points to a net 5%, which is the largest monthly decline since November 2012.  
   • Real sales expectations in the next six months declined 31 points to a net negative 12%, the largest monthly decline in the survey’s history.  
   • Thirteen percent of firms thought it was a good time to expand, a decline of 13 points from last month. 
   • Job openings fell three points to 35%. 

As reported in NFIB’s monthly jobs report, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the small business labor market reported strong hiring, elevated levels of open positions, and historically high employee compensation. However, hiring plans experienced a significant drop from February yet finding qualified workers remains the top issue for 24% of small employers who reported this as their No. 1 problem. 

Down two points from February, 60% of owners reported capital outlays. Of those making expenditures, 43% reported spending on new equipment, 26% acquired vehicles, 16% improved or expanded facilities, 6% acquired new buildings or land for expansion, and 12% spend money for new fixtures and furniture. Twenty-one percent of owners are planning capital outlays in the next few months, a sign that small business owners are scaling back spending as economic conditions started to disrupt the nation. 

Sales held strong in March, with a seasonally adjusted net 8% of all owners reporting higher nominal sales in the past three months. As actual sales volumes remained strong, expectations of the future of sales growth deteriorated significantly. It is clear owners felt the pending economic shift as state officials began to shut down non-essential businesses and issue stay-at-home orders in response to coronavirus. 

A net negative three percent of owners are planning to expand inventory holdings. Small business owners are bracing themselves for a significant reduction in consumer spending and future orders. 

The frequency of reports of positive profit trends fell two points to a net negative 6% reporting quarter-on-quarter profits. Among the owners reporting weaker profits, 32% blamed weaker sales, 26% blamed usual seasonal change, 9% cited price changes, 7% cited labor costs, and 7% cited material costs. For those reporting higher profits, 53% credited sales volumes and 22% credited usual seasonal change. 

NFIB released surveys in March on how COVID-19 is impacting small businesses. The latest survey showed 92% of small employers are negatively impacted by the outbreak and about half of small employers said they can survive for no more than two months under the current business conditions.  

Click here to view the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends Survey. 

About the Small Business Economic Trends 
The NFIB Research Center has collected Small Business Economic Trends data with quarterly surveys since the 4th quarter of 1973 and monthly surveys since 1986. Survey respondents are drawn from a random sample of NFIB’s membership. The report is released on the second Tuesday of each month. This survey was conducted in February 2020. For more information about NFIB, please visit NFIB.com. 

 

NAB: BROADCASTERS HAVE AIRED $42 MILLION WORTH OF COVID-19 PSAS
Just over three weeks after the National Association of Broadcasters made a series of COVID-19 PSAs available, radio and television stations in the U.S. have donated airtime estimated at more than $42 million to the campaign. Since the initiative’s launch on March 12, more than 175,000 PSAs, aimed at helping educate Americans about preventing the spread of the virus, have aired on broadcast TV and radio, the NAB says.

“The response from America’s local broadcasters to this extraordinary crisis is truly incredible,” NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith said in a news release. “From donating unprecedented airtime for PSAs to promoting struggling small businesses to covering the latest public health developments, I am so proud of radio and TV broadcasters for their support of local communities. As our nation faces these challenging times, broadcasters will continue serving as ‘first informers’ by reporting, comforting and educating.”

On March 12, the NAB began distributing the PSAs via the NAB Coronavirus Response Toolkit, an online resource to help broadcast radio and TV stations accurately cover the coronavirus pandemic and prepare for the impact on their staff, community and businesses. The toolkit provides downloadable PSAs and scripts in English and Spanish. It also includes resources to help local broadcasters prevent and address COVID-19 at their stations as well as editorial guidelines to help journalists combat misinformation and provide accurate and timely coverage of the virus.

NAB also recently launched a compilation of stories about broadcasters’ efforts to support local small businesses facing hardships.

In addition to NAB’s PSA campaign, many radio and TV stations have produced and aired their own public service ads, which are not included in the statistics the NAB announced Friday. Also not included are airings of PSAs produced by Ad Council in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai last month urged broadcasters to air the PSAs during a March 16 conference call with the heads of the broadcast trade associations. During the call, Pai specifically thanked the NAB for making the toolkit available to radio and television stations. Republicans on the House Energy & Commerce Committee also praised the broadcast industry’s education efforts.
 

BOOZMAN URGES USDA TO ENSURE CONTINUITY OF FOOD SUPPLY & RELIEF TO FARMERS
Supports Continued FSA Loan Flexibility During Pandemic
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) signed onto a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urging the Trump administration to ensure the continuity of our country’s food supply and support rural areas during the coronavirus pandemic by providing needed relief to farmers.

“Americans always depend on our nation’s farmers to grow the food, fuel, and fiber that we all need, but that reliance becomes much more pronounced in times of crisis,” the senators wrote. “To provide additional support for those whose operations are being affected by the coronavirus, we urge you to consider making emergency measures such as deadline extensions, loan payment deferrals, payment forbearance, and a full suspension of all current and pending foreclosure actions effective for the duration of the pandemic and subsequent economic recovery.”

The bipartisan letter was led by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Hoeven (R-ND). In addition to Boozman, the letter was signed by Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Bob Casey (D-PA), John Thune (R-SD), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Steve Daines (R-MT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Barrasso (R-WY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Tina Smith (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Angus King (I-ME), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Todd Young (R-IN), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tom Carper (D-DE), Gary Peters (D-MI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jon Tester (D-MT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

The full text of the letter can be found below:

Dear Secretary Perdue:

We write to ask that you take action to ensure the continuity of our country’s food supply and support rural areas during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by providing needed relief to farmers—including by ensuring that the temporary flexibilities on farm loans recently announced by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) are made permanent for the duration of the pandemic and subsequent economic recovery, and also by ensuring adequate and equitable access to credit during this period of market uncertainty.

As you know, farmers across the country have faced many challenges in the past several years. The coronavirus pandemic is now causing additional disruptions, driving further declines in market conditions, prices, and export demand, and some experts believe that the consequences of the pandemic could hit rural communities particularly hard. In the past week alone, cattle producers have seen excessive price losses and corn growers have seen biofuel producers suspend purchases due to weaker fuel demand. These conditions have created cash flow challenges as spring planting season quickly approaches. 

Americans always depend on our nation’s farmers to grow the food, fuel, and fiber that we all need, but that reliance becomes much more pronounced in times of crisis. We appreciate the Department’s recognition of the challenges facing farmers and the announcement made by FSA on March 26, 2020, to provide flexibility for those repaying farm loans. These actions will help alleviate cash flow concerns as producers make important business decisions for their operations. We respectfully ask that you provide us with additional information as to how the Department plans to communicate these flexibilities to producers, the criteria that the Department will consider when determining whether a producer receives temporary payment deferral or forbearance, and how long these extensions will be in effect for producers responding to loan servicing actions.

To provide additional support for those whose operations are being affected by the coronavirus, we urge you to consider making emergency measures such as deadline extensions, loan payment deferrals, payment forbearance, and a full suspension of all current and pending foreclosure actions effective for the duration of the pandemic and subsequent economic recovery. The Department should also consider taking additional emergency actions – including the authorization of loan restructuring and loan balance write-downs – that were not included in the March 26 announcement. Such measures are critical to avoiding disruption in the country’s food supply chain.

We also urge you to prioritize and fully leverage existing programs at the Department that are well suited to resolving loan and credit impacts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Agricultural Mediation Program. This existing federal-state partnership has a proven track record of providing confidential and neutral forums to discuss and resolve loan and credit issues between farmers and their lenders. The program’s caseloads have steadily risen over the past eight years and can be expected to increase as the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic ripple through the rural economy.

We will continue working to provide for additional support for farmers and rural communities to address the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic. In the meantime, we urge you to consider actions that will provide flexibility and temporary relief for borrowers and ensure adequate and equitable access to credit.

Thank you for your continued work on behalf of American farmers and ranchers. We stand ready and willing to work with you to help get farmers through these extraordinary circumstances. 

Sincerely,
 

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN JOINS CONGRESSMAN RICK CRAWFORD’S FARM CORPS EFFORTS TO CONNECT UNEMPLOYED VETERANS WITH FARMERS IMPACTED BY COVID-19
 LITTLE ROCK – Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin announced today he is joining Congressman Rick Crawford, the Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Department of Agriculture, the Arkansas Department of Veteran Affairs, and the Arkansas Farm Bureau in announcing the Farm and Ranch Mission Corps (FARM Corps) in response to the agricultural workforce crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic. FARM Corps will assist our farmers and ranchers in meeting their workforce demands and helping National Guard and Reserve soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and other military veterans find employment. Lt.Governor Tim Griffin issued the following statment: 

“Agriculture is Arkansas’s largest industry, and our farmers and ranchers feed the world. However, many of our farmers have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud to join Congressman Rick Crawford in announcing the FARM Corps partnership, and I am thankful for the assistance of the National Guard and Farm Bureau to help find employment for those who have served our country and those working to feed it.”

Use the links below to find more information on FARM Corp: 
Info Sheet
 Facebook
 Twitter

 
 
 

APRIL 6, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON – COVID-19 UPDATE – APRIL 06, 2020
Schools across the state of Arkansas will be closed for on-campus instruction for the remainder of the year, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson as stated during the latest COVID-19 press conference held Monday afternoon, April 6th.

 Many districts will continue to supply packets to be picked up and dropped off on site to provide resources for students who do not have reliable internet connections. Governor Asa Hutchinson reports that the decision was made out of concern for public health in our state. 

As far as new cases go, the state is now up to a total of 875 people who have now tested positive for the coronavirus. No additional people have been reported to have passed away from the illness, as the death toll has stood at 16 since Sunday, April 5th. There are also 74 people currently hospitalized from COVID-19 and there is now one new county. With the addition of Izard, 65 of the 75 counties in Arkansas have reported positive coronavirus cases. 

With tests continuing to increase, and school out for the rest of the year, Elementary and Secondary Education Secretary Johnny Key encourages flexibility to be practiced as the home-bound situation is new for many families, and additional learning support may be needed for students who are struggling to adjust.

Many questions still remain unanswered for educators and students alike following Monday's school closure announcement. The issue of SAT/ACT testing for high school students seeking college admissions and attendance requirements varying in state public school districts still linger, as Secretary Key reports theses issues and similar concerns have begun to circulate upon the closure news. Although its "too soon to tell" how these issues will be addressed, one thing is now certain for Arkansas public school students as schoolwork will still be implemented through AMI packets and internet-based instruction. Officials report that internet capacity should be expanded where feasible in order for teachers to upload assignments and students to receive their work. Another issue addressed regarding the school closures is child nutrition. Secretary Key reports that meal programs will still be supplied so long as campuses comply with the Arkansas Department of Heath's regulations. 

More updates will be reported on the COVID-19 Pandemic developments as information is released. Again, there are  total of 875 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state of Arkansas. No additional people have been reported to have passed away from the illness, as the death toll still stands at 16. There are 74 people hospitalized from COVID-19 and there is now one new county. With the addition of Izard, 65 of the 75 counties in Arkansas have reported positive coronavirus cases. 

We'll keep you updated. Stay tuned. 

ARKANSAS BANKS STAND READY TO HELP, ENCOURAGE PATIENCE AS PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM LAUNCHES 
LITTLE ROCK, AR. – April 2, 2020 – The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will offer some relief to small businesses in Arkansas, and Arkansas banks want to help borrowers through this process. Bankers ask for patience from the public as they work through the initial phase of the program. Application volume is already very high and the financial institutions qualified to offer these loans will strive to keep up with demand. 

“Sheer volume won’t be the only reason the program will take time,” said Arkansas Bankers Association President and CEO Lorrie Trogden. “Banks are in the process of reviewing guidance released late Thursday evening from federal agencies and regulators as they prepare to counsel their customers on the Paycheck Protection Program.” 

Even with the latest guidance, several aspects of the emergency program remain unclear. Many borrowers filled out the sample application posted to the Treasury website earlier this week, but that form changed late last night. In addition, the SBA has not yet issued final procedures for banks to complete back-end processing. Lenders that have not traditionally participated in SBA loans are waiting for the SBA to release a lender application process so that they can participate and assist in getting much needed relief into the hands of small businesses in their communities.

Despite that, Arkansas banks that can are accepting applications. Banks are here to help. Once the appropriate SBA government forms and processes become available, your Arkansas banks stand ready to serve their customers and communities.

“Keep in mind that PPP loans aren’t the only way Arkansas’ banks are helping their customers,” explained Trogden. “They worked one-on-one with their customers to find solutions before PPP became available, and they will continue to do so after the program is done. The good news is that Arkansas’ banks entered this pandemic from a position of strength and are well-equipped to help their communities.” 

The ABA also recommends the following five things businesses can do right now: 

1: Talk to your lender, if you haven’t already. If you are experiencing or expect to experience cash flow problems, contacting your lender is the critical first step. 

2: Plan for the next 3-6 months, if you haven’t already. Many businesses we’ve heard from have sufficient funds or access to capital for the first 2-3 months. We don’t know how long the pandemic will last, however, so look ahead, both in terms of a potential lengthening of the pandemic and also in how you will handle recovery and re-opening of the business if you are currently closed. 

3: Be ready to produce required information quickly to help your lender with your application. All loan programs still require some information in order for the lender to underwrite the loan, including the ones created through the CARES Act. Be ready to produce required documentation quickly to help your lender with your application. 

4: Don’t panic and draw on lines of credit unnecessarily. There is plenty of liquidity in the system (unlike during the financial crisis in 2008), so don’t panic and draw on lines of credit unnecessarily. Just like we are encouraging consumers to keep excess cash in insured financial institutions, keep the lines of credit intact until you absolutely need to access them. There may be costs associated with accessing those funds, and if you don’t need to incur the added expense, don’t. 

5: Have patience. The banking industry wants to help you through these unprecedented times, but not all programs are in place yet, and even when they are, technology can cause hiccups or delays (e.g. systems crashing). 

The Arkansas Bankers Association (www.arkbankers.org) founded in 1891, is the voice of Arkansas’s $100 billion banking industry, which is composed of small, regional, and large banks that together employ more than 27,000 people. It is the state’s largest and oldest banking industry organization, providing a variety of member services, including educational programs, products and services, publications and a comprehensive government relations program. 

For More Information: Please visit sba.gov

2020 TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES PROGRAM & RECREATIONAL TRAILS PROGRAM PUBLIC MEETING RESCHEDULED AND APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED
LITTLE ROCK (4-3) – Previously, the March 17, 2020 and April 7, 2020 Application Seminars for the 2020 Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) and Recreational Trails Program (RTP) application cycle were postponed in an effort to promote social distancing and to mitigate the spread of COVID‑19 in Arkansas.  The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT) is now rescheduling these application seminars in the format of a webinar on April 16, 2020. 

For instructions on how to access the webinar, please refer to ArDOT’s TAP webpage at www.ardot.gov/tap/tap.aspx.  Attendees will need to register to attend the webinar and receive login information.

Due to the postponement of the previous application seminars and to allow for additional time to complete applications, the application deadline is being extended to Monday, July 1, 2020.  The applications available on ArDOT’s TAP webpage have been updated to reflect the new deadline.

A recording of the April 16, 2020, webinar will be posted on ArDOT’s TAP webpage shortly following the event.

VIEW VIRTUAL TRAVEL EXPERIENCES AT ARKANSAS.COM/VIRTUALTOURS
By Zoie Clift, travel writer
You can still visit some of your favorite Arkansas attractions via virtual efforts across the state to keep the community connected to the many places that make Arkansas unique. Many attractions are keeping their experiences open to the public through creative virtual efforts that range from interactive tours to virtual safaris to ballet performances. Below is a peek at a few of the experiences currently available for the public to enjoy across the state. 

Connecting to Nature
The Little Rock Zoo has an important role in inspiring people to value and conserve our natural world. During this time, they have a Virtual Safari series that takes place every day at 2 p.m. on their Facebook page where you can explore different parts of the zoo and meet all of their animals.

The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission has put up a virtual nature center at agfcnaturecenter.com. The endeavor is an effort to continue teaching people about the outdoors during this time. Topics you can learn about in the virtual nature center range from fishing tips to recipe segments. The virtual nature center is a collaboration between nature centers, regional educators, program coordinators and other AGFC staff. New content will be added to the page every couple of days, including new content that is being created for this project. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs has daily virtual tours up on their Facebook page. This spot provides lifetime refuge for abandoned big cats with an emphasis on tigers, lions, leopards, and cougars. A video gallery full of footage of big cats and day to day operations of the refuge can also be found on their website at turpentinecreek.org.

Connecting to Art
 The arts play an important role in a community. The building may be closed, but Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville is open online. You can visit the website, crystalbridges.org, to watch videos on art, architecture and more. Plus, you can step inside an artwork to immerse yourself through a virtual reality tool or just explore the artwork online.

While the Arkansas Arts Center’s in-person programs are postponed, the center has launched Arkansas Arts Center Amplified, a Facebook group where you can find highlights of artworks from their collection, Children’s Theatre performances, artist demonstrations and more.

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra is featuring performers playing live music on their social media outlets including Facebook

A weekly series called “Encore” brings a variety of Ballet Arkansas performances to the comfort of your home every weekend. You can visit balletarkansas.org/encore each weekend to experience a new performance. For the super motivated, they have also created a “Learn from Home” experience at balletarkansas.org/learn-from-home where you can take part in dance classes.

Connecting to Museums
The Esse Purse Museum, the only purse museum in the nation, is giving access to their exhibits via their website essepursemuseum.com where you can tour their exhibits online. 

The Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs has found a great way to keep the learning going at home. Extending through May, the museum will be posting a total of 30 pre-recorded classes at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The Saturday class will be their regular Scientots class, which is a science-based literacy program for children ages 6 and under. The Tuesday and Thursday classes are for kids of all ages and designed to encourage the viewer to try experiments at home. These and other educational and fun videos can be found on the museum’s Facebook and YouTube Channel.

The Museum of Discovery in Little Rock is also offering lessons and ‘At Home Discoveries’ videos via their Facebook page.

Connecting to City Life 
Hot Springs was the scene of the first tourism film in Arkansas using virtual reality technology. “Hot Springs, The Experience of a Lifetime” is a two-part virtual reality experience that you can see on the Visit Hot Springs YouTube channel. Spots like the Northwoods mountain biking trail system, Lake Hamilton, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, Bathhouse Row at Hot Springs National Park, Garvan Woodland Gardens, Lake Ouachita, Mid-America Science Museum and downtown Hot Springs are featured.

The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville offers a virtual tour of campus at uark.edu. The interactive tour gives you a look at the beautiful campus as well as some fun history. Learn about Old Main, one of the oldest buildings in the state, Senior Walk, and Spoofer’s Stone, a popular spot for marriage proposals, plus much more.

Connecting to History
 The Historic Arkansas Museum is doing videos on gardening, blacksmithing, clothes washing before the days of washing machines, and other topics. They have several interesting videos up currently on their Facebook page.

You can also view the collection found at the Old State House Museum online at oldstatehouse.com. They are doing live videos on their Facebook page with a plan to feature one every Tuesday. Also in the works is a virtual tour and plans to adapt their educational programs so that they can be done virtually.

Pea Ridge National Military Park in Pea Ridge preserves and protects the history that took place on its hallowed ground. The Pea Ridge Campaign can be experienced online at peri.toursphere.com, where you can view images and videos, listen to audio or read text about several locations on the battlefield, the men who fought here and other interesting topics.

Hampson Archeological Museum State Park in Wilson exhibits a nationally renowned collection from the Nodena site, a village that once thrived on the Mississippi River in what is today Mississippi County. Visitors have an opportunity to enjoy the museum with a virtual tour of 3D artifacts from the museum's impressive collection at hampson.cast.uark.edu.

You can also find virtual experiences on the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center’s Facebook page including living history presentation videos.

About Arkansas Tourism
Arkansas Tourism, a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, strives to expand the economic impact of travel and tourism in the state and enhance the quality of life for all Arkansans. The division manages 14 Arkansas Welcome Centers and employs more than 60 staff members across The Natural State. For more information, visit arkansas.com.

 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON ISSUES EXECUTIVE ORDER REQUIRING NEW PROTOCOLS FOR COMMERCIAL LODGINGS, SHORT-TEAM RENTALS
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson has issued an executive order mandating new safety measures for commercial lodgings, short-term rentals, and other institutions and operations in order to protect public health during the COVID-19 crisis, he announced at a news conference today.

“Every day, we review guidance from state and federal health experts and evaluate additional steps we can take to protect Arkansans from the spread of COVID-19,” Governor Hutchinson said. “I am grateful that Arkansans have taken extraordinary efforts to practice social distancing and flatten the curve. It is my hope that these new measures will provide further protection for Arkansans as we prepare for the peak number of COVID-19 cases in our state.”

The Governor has directed that commercial lodgings and short-term rentals, including, hotels, motels, and vacation rentals, only permit occupancy for the following authorized guests:
Healthcare professionals;
First responders;
Law enforcement;
State or federal employees on official business;
National Guard members on active duty;
Airline crew members;
Patients of hospitals and their families;
Journalists;
Persons unable to return to their home due to COVID-19 travel restrictions;
Arkansas citizens unable to return to their home due to exigent circumstances, such as fire, flood, tornado, or other disaster;
Persons in need of shelter due to domestic violence or homelessness;
Employees of hotels, motels, or other service providers/contractors of a hotel or motel;
and persons away from their home due to work or work-related travel. Read the Executive Order, EO 20-13, HERE.

CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION SUPPORTS GOVERNOR'S REQUEST FOR INCREASED ARKANSAS NATIONAL GUARD AUTHORITY AND FUNDING
WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman— urged President Trump to approve Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request for additional funding and resources for the Arkansas National Guard in order to support the ongoing response to COVID-19 in the Natural State.  

“While the Arkansas National Guard has been able to answer all Requests for Assistance to date, further funding will be necessary to support continued widespread taskings that are expected as patient numbers begin to exceed hospital space,” members wrote in the letter.

Below is the full text of the letter: 

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the State of Arkansas, we are writing to support Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request for authority and additional funding under 502(f)(2)(A) of Title 32, U.S.C., for Arkansas National Guard resources to support the response to COVID-19 in Arkansas.

As Governor Hutchinson noted at the time of his request, the state of Arkansas had 738 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and is experiencing community spread in multiple areas, including Little Rock. Unfortunately, we expect those numbers to increase as the disease continues to spread, and the Arkansas National Guard is a critical component of the fight. 

The Governor is requesting the following mission assignments for the Arkansas National Guard: 

·         Emergency Medical Care:  Arkansas National Guard qualified military medics to support COVID-19, drive-thru testing. 

·         Emergency Medical Care: Arkansas National Guard medical personnel to provide technical assistance to the Arkansas Department of Health phone center to advise Arkansans on COVID-19; 

·         Emergency Medical Care: Arkansas National Guard personnel to assist the Arkansas Department of Health with an immediate re-write of quarantine, isolation, and expanded medical facility build out. 

·         Emergency Medical Care/Management Control: Arkansas National Guard personnel with Engineering Degrees to assist the United States Army Corps of Engineers in conducting assessments for sites selected as quarantine, isolation, and expanded medical facility build out.

·         Management, Control: Arkansas National Guard personnel to assist the Arkansas Department of Health’s Emergency Operations Center to provide logistical support of tracking and delivering needed Personal Protective Equipment.  

·         Management Control: Arkansas National Guard personnel working in the Arkansas National Guard Joint Operations Center to track Arkansas National Guard missions, personnel, equipment, and providing predictive analysis to the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management and Arkansas Department of Health.

As noted by Governor Hutchinson, Arkansas is a balanced budget state and faces a $353 million budget shortfall between now and June 30, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. While the Arkansas National Guard has been able to answer all Requests for Assistance to date, further funding will be necessary to support continued widespread taskings that are expected as patient numbers begin to exceed hospital space.

Without this additional assistance and authority, it will be difficult for Arkansas to bare all of the responsibilities it will be facing in the coming months and focus the proper amount of time, energy and financial support necessary to get life back to normal. 

The entire Arkansas delegation is eager to assist in any way possible to ensure expedited evaluation of this request. Please do not hesitate to contact our offices with any questions. We thank you for the support you have already offered, and respectfully ask for your continued attention and assistance in providing the resources necessary to ensure the safety of Arkansans.
 

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES INTENT TO GRANT EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today announced his intent to grant 10 pardons. An additional 38 clemency requests were denied and four had no action taken upon them. These include requests from both inmates and non-inmates.

The applicants intended for pardons have completed all jail time, fulfilled all parole and probationary requirements and paid all fines related to their sentences. There is a 30-day waiting period to receive public feedback on the notices before final action is taken.

Governor Hutchinson intends to grant pardons to the following people:

Cheung Chanthavong (Fort Smith): Aggravated Assault (D Felony)(CR 99-708).
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2000 – Sebastian County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Mary L. Gaynor (Fort Smith): Overdraft (Felony) (CR-86-98), Theft by Deception (C Felony) (CR-86-265), Theft by Deception (Revocation) (C Felony) (CR-86-265), Overdraft (Revocation) (Felony) (CR-89-98), and Theft by Deception (C Felony) (CR 88-638).This notice is issued based on the dates of convictions (1986, 1987, and 1988– Sebastian County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement  objections to the application.

Justin R. Kelly (Fayetteville): Maintaining Drug Premises Near Drug Free Zone (B Felony), Possession of Controlled Substance Marijuana < 10 lbs. (C Felony), and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (C Felony)(CR 2004-1052). This notice is issued based on the date of convictions (2005 – Faulkner County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Charla Nofire (Cookson, OK): Endangering the Welfare of a Minor in the First Degree (D Felony) (CR-99-836).
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2000 – Sebastian County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Warren L. Pfeifer (Fort Smith): Carrying a Prohibited Weapon (Misdemeanor)(Case# 03-96-12737) and Fleeing (D Felony)(CR 97-51 G). This notice is issued based on the dates of convictions (1997 – Crawford County and Sebastian County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Ivory Robinson, Jr (Marvell): Possession of Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver-Marijuana (C Felony)(CR 2002-154). This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2005 – Phillips County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Billy Storay (Little Rock): Theft by Receiving (Misdemeanor)(Case# 12281) and Aggravated Robbery (Y Felony)(CR 92-02605).This notice is issued based on the dates of convictions (1990 and 1992 – Pulaski County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. The Prosecuting Attorney has raised objections to applicant's request.

Bobby R. Walker, Jr (Little Rock): Theft by Receiving (Felony)(CR 92-445B) and Possession of a Controlled Substance (Felony)(CR 93-1400). This notice is issued based on the dates of convictions (1992 and 1993 – Pulaski County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Douglas L. Walters (Malvern): Conspiracy to Deliver a Controlled Substance (A Felony)(CR 96-34). This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1996 – Dallas County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Rodney Young (Corning): Possession of Drug Paraphernalia with Intent to Use (C Felony)(CR 97-21), Possession of Methamphetamine (C Felony)(CR 98-10), and Possession of a Controlled Substance- Methamphetamine with Intent to Deliver (Y Felony)(CR 98-41). This notice is issued based on the date of convictions (1998 – Clay County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application. 

 

COTTON, HAWLEY, CURTIS, GALLAGHER INTRODUCE LI WENLIANG GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH ACCOUNTABILITY ACT
Washington, D.C. – Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), along with Representatives John Curtis (R-Utah), Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin), Ted Yoho (R-Florida), Jim Banks (R-IN), and Liz Cheney (R-WY) will introduce the Li Wenliang Global Public Health Accountability Act, legislation that would authorize the president to sanction foreign officials who suppress or distort information about international public health crises, including the Wuhan coronavirus. Bill text may be found here.

“Dr. Li tried to warn his country and the world about the Wuhan coronavirus, but he was silenced by the Chinese Communist Party. By hiding the truth about the virus, the CCP turned a regional health problem into a global catastrophe. In honor of Dr. Li, our bill seeks to punish foreign officials responsible for suppressing information about international health crises, including the Wuhan virus,” said Cotton.

 “The Chinese Communist Party must be held accountable for misleading the world about the scope and danger of the coronavirus. Dr. Li Wenliang bravely tried to warn his country and the world about the spread and seriousness of this virus. We should honor his legacy and do our part to hold the CCP accountable for this pandemic,” said Hawley.

“As Dr. Li Wenliang said, ‘A Healthy Society Shouldn’t Only Have One Voice.’ By suppressing critical public health information, officials in China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and elsewhere have demonstrated they care more about maintaining their grip on power than the health and wellbeing of their people. The Li Wenliang Global Public Health Accountability Act—named after the heroic Chinese doctor whistleblower—will ensure that dictators and their cronies think twice before once allowing a local health crisis spiral out of control into a pandemic that endangers the globe,” said Curtis.

“Had the Chinese Communist Party listened to — rather than suppressed — Dr. Li and his repeated warnings about the coronavirus, we could have prevented this global pandemic and saved lives. Instead, Chinese officials deliberately lied and misled the world about the severity of this virus in an effort to protect their reckless regime. It’s time we hold these apparatchiks accountable for the damage they’ve done to the world,” said Gallagher.

Background:
The Li Wenliang Global Public Health Accountability Act is sanctions legislation modeled after the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. It would authorize the president to sanction foreign officials who suppress or distort information about international public health crises, including the Wuhan coronavirus. These sanctions include inadmissibility to the United States, revocation of existing U.S. visas, and the blocking of all property within the United States. This legislation would provide Congress with the authority to request that the president review specific foreign officials for sanctions eligibility. Within 120 days of receiving such a request, the president must report to Congress on whether he/she intends to impose sanctions. Earlier this year, Senator Cotton introduced a resolution honoring Dr. Li’s bravery and sacrifice. The resolution passed on March 3.

April 03,2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON LATEST PRESS CONFERENCE – APRIL 03 2020
At the latest COVID-19 Press Conference held by Governor Asa Hutchinson, it was reported that the total number of positive coronavirus cases in Arkansas has now reached 704. This update was provided on Friday, April 3rd at 1:30 p.m. It was also reported that a new county in the state has seen a positive case, as Monroe County has now been added to the list. 

There are 71 people who are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in Arkansas and 26 of the patients remain on ventilators. The death by cornavirus number has held steady from Thursday's update with 12 Arkansans reported to have died from the illness so far, however 60 are now considered to be recovered. 

Needed supplies have arrived in the state as Personal Protection Equipment has been procured for the medical industry professionals combating the crisis. Emergency Management officials began retrieving the supplies that will be dispersed appropriately this weekend. The Governor reports that this hospital protective gear is much needed by healthcare workers in Arkansas at this time.

With the number of positive cases continuing to increase, Governor Hutchinson focused on the number of tests conducted for the virus that have turned out negative in the natural state. With nearly 10,000 people swabbed for COVID-19 so far, the number of negative tests results reported are said to be more than 80%.

In terms of the positive cases that have been reported, Dr. Nathaniel Smith provided the public with a breakdown of additional factors affecting the people who have contracted COVID-19. The majority of the residents who have passed away from coronavirus have been over the age of 65 and residing within the central Arkansas area. 

Again, there are now 704 people in the state reported to have contracted the Coronavirus in Arkansas. There 71 people who are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state and 26 of the patients remain on ventilators. The death by cornavirus number is at  12 and 60 are now considered to be recovered. 

We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: SOCIAL SECURITY SCAM
Demand Arkansans’ Information for Continued Payments
LITTLE ROCK-Scam artists thrive on fear, and the COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed their illegal schemes. They are now using today’s financial uncertainty to trick social security beneficiaries into thinking their payments will be suspended unless they provide personal information to the scammer by phone, email or text. The social security Office of the Inspector General has confirmed, however, that beneficiaries will continue to receive scheduled payments during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Any letters, texts, emails or phone calls stating otherwise are a scam
“The Social Security Administration will not suspend or discontinue your payments due to COVID-19,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I urge anyone who receives a scam request for your personal bank account information to hang up the phone immediately.”

Scam artists have sent letters to Social Security beneficiaries by U.S. Mail and stated that benefit payments will be canceled unless he or she contacts the phone number identified in the letter.  Some of these letters may even include a reference number in order to suggest that the letter is legitimate. Upon calling the phone number provided, beneficiaries are asked to give personal information or to make a payment with gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency or by mailing cash to ensure social security payments. 

Attorney General Rutledge has provided the following tips to protect Arkansans from con artists:

  • Government benefits do not require up-front payment of money, and requests for payment by gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, cash, or debit or credit cards are scams.
  • Rely on information from well-known or government sources and websites that end in .gov. Examples include the Social Security Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Arkansas Department of Health; 
  • Beware of requests that ask for your personal information, credit card information, Social Security number or banking information;
  • Check the URL link for a "lock" icon before you proceed to make sure that the website is a secure site.
  • Look for non-personalized email greetings like “Dear Sir or Madam,” and delete emails that insist you act urgently or immediately.
  • Consider contacting a friend, loved one, or financial professional before providing information or agreeing to any proposal from a possible governmental entity.

To report this scam to the Social Security Administration, contact its Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271, or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

The Attorney General’s Office created a page that links to state and federal government resource pages for COVID-19 at ArkansasAG.gov/COVID19. Contact the office with any concerns about scams at (800) 482-8982.

ARKANSAS BANKS STAND READY TO HELP, ENCOURAGE PATIENCE AS PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM LAUNCHES 
LITTLE ROCK, AR. – April 2, 2020 – The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will offer some relief to small businesses in Arkansas, and Arkansas banks want to help borrowers through this process. Bankers ask for patience from the public as they work through the initial phase of the program. Application volume is already very high and the financial institutions qualified to offer these loans will strive to keep up with demand. 

“Sheer volume won’t be the only reason the program will take time,” said Arkansas Bankers Association President and CEO Lorrie Trogden. “Banks are in the process of reviewing guidance released late Thursday evening from federal agencies and regulators as they prepare to counsel their customers on the Paycheck Protection Program.” 

Even with the latest guidance, several aspects of the emergency program remain unclear. Many borrowers filled out the sample application posted to the Treasury website earlier this week, but that form changed late last night. In addition, the SBA has not yet issued final procedures for banks to complete back-end processing. Lenders that have not traditionally participated in SBA loans are waiting for the SBA to release a lender application process so that they can participate and assist in getting much needed relief into the hands of small businesses in their communities.

Despite that, Arkansas banks that can are accepting applications. Banks are here to help. Once the appropriate SBA government forms and processes become available, your Arkansas banks stand ready to serve their customers and communities.

“Keep in mind that PPP loans aren’t the only way Arkansas’ banks are helping their customers,” explained Trogden. “They worked one-on-one with their customers to find solutions before PPP became available, and they will continue to do so after the program is done. The good news is that Arkansas’ banks entered this pandemic from a position of strength and are well-equipped to help their communities.” 

The ABA also recommends the following five things businesses can do right now: 

1: Talk to your lender, if you haven’t already. If you are experiencing or expect to experience cash flow problems, contacting your lender is the critical first step. 

2: Plan for the next 3-6 months, if you haven’t already. Many businesses we’ve heard from have sufficient funds or access to capital for the first 2-3 months. We don’t know how long the pandemic will last, however, so look ahead, both in terms of a potential lengthening of the pandemic and also in how you will handle recovery and re-opening of the business if you are currently closed. 

3: Be ready to produce required information quickly to help your lender with your application. All loan programs still require some information in order for the lender to underwrite the loan, including the ones created through the CARES Act. Be ready to produce required documentation quickly to help your lender with your application. 

4: Don’t panic and draw on lines of credit unnecessarily. There is plenty of liquidity in the system (unlike during the financial crisis in 2008), so don’t panic and draw on lines of credit unnecessarily. Just like we are encouraging consumers to keep excess cash in insured financial institutions, keep the lines of credit intact until you absolutely need to access them. There may be costs associated with accessing those funds, and if you don’t need to incur the added expense, don’t. 

5: Have patience. The banking industry wants to help you through these unprecedented times, but not all programs are in place yet, and even when they are, technology can cause hiccups or delays (e.g. systems crashing). 

The Arkansas Bankers Association (www.arkbankers.org) founded in 1891, is the voice of Arkansas’s $100 billion banking industry, which is composed of small, regional, and large banks that together employ more than 27,000 people. It is the state’s largest and oldest banking industry organization, providing a variety of member services, including educational programs, products and services, publications and a comprehensive government relations program. 
 

SAU POSTPONES SPRING GRADUATION CEREMONIES
MAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University is committed to the safety and wellbeing of its students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends. During this worldwide pandemic, the University has been forced to make unprecedented decisions in an effort to protect its most valuable asset -- its people. Because of this, SAU is announcing that the May 2020 commencement ceremonies will be postponed and combined with its summer ceremonies on August 7 and August 8. 

Friday, August 7:
College of Liberal and Performing Arts- 11:00 a.m. 
College of Education- 2:00 p.m.
School of Graduate Studies- 5:00 p.m. 

Saturday, August 8:
College of Science and Engineering- 11:00 a.m.
Department of Nursing- 2:00 p.m.
Rankin College of Business- 5:00 p.m. 

Degrees for spring graduates will be conferred in May and students will receive diplomas this summer. However, the University welcomes all graduates, along with their families and friends, to have the opportunity to celebrate this milestone by attending a full commencement ceremony in August. Students will receive more information regarding these ceremonies from the Office of the Registrar in the coming weeks. 

For those students set to graduate in May, transcripts will be finalized and diplomas will be mailed this summer following standard procedures. This will allow those needing the documents for the workplace or graduate school to have them.

“We are all in this together,” said Dr. Trey Berry, SAU president. “We will continue to do all we can in these unprecedented times to honor our students and the heritage of our institution, and we look forward to honoring another great class of graduates, as they become Mulerider alumni and share the Blue and Gold spirit across the world.”
 

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON PRESS CONFERENCE – APRIL 2, 2020
During the most recent COVID-19 press conference held by Arkansas Governor, Asa Hutchinson Thursday, April 2nd, it was reported that there at now 643 positive cases of the coronavirus in Arkansas. Of the total cases, 91 are workers in the healthcare field and 66 are currently hospitalized with 23 patients on ventilators. There were also two additional deaths reported, which brings the total count of people who have died from the illness to 12.

Before introducing guest speakers to report special updates during the conference, the Governor addressed an issue that several residents have questioned state officials about through the developments of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many Arkansans have reportedly been wondering about whether or not Arkansas will join other states in implementing a "Shelter In Place" law that would close down even more businesses and require residents to remain home unless seeking groceries or fulfilling medical needs. According to Governor Hutchinson, the decision on whether or not to enforce the stay-at-home order would depend upon what would be accomplished, or possibly hindered by the move.

The Governor reports that other states with stay at home orders are still seeing an increase in coronavirus cases despite implementing mandates for residents to stay home. 

Another issued addressed during Thursday's press conference was a concern about what is being done to practice safety measures in Arkansas Prisons and Jails to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Governor tapped Wendy Kelly to report actions that have been taken to keep inmates and officers healthy within the state's corrections system. Kelly says that in-person visits have been ceased for health protection measures, while probation and parole fees have been suspended in response to the increased number of unemployed residents throughout the state. 

Additional changes regarding state guidelines in response to COVID-19 will be reported as information becomes available. Again, there are now 643 positive cases of COVID-19 in the state of Arkansas. With two additional deaths reported, there are now 12 people in the state who have died from the coronavirus while 66 remain hospitalized and 23 are currently on ventilators. We'll continue to keep you updated. Stay tuned, 
 

BOOZMAN WARNS ARKANSANS OF SCAMMERS WORKING TO PROFIT OFF CORONAVIRUS FEARS
WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is warning Arkansans to be aware of coronavirus-related scams as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports an increase in complaints of fraud and nationwide losses of $4.77 million to consumers.

“Scammers and con artists are preying on fears Arkansans have related to the coronavirus, and are using this crisis to steal our money and personal information. It’s important to remain vigilant and learn how to recognize and identify schemes scammers use to avoid becoming a victim,” Boozman said.

Scams have become increasingly complex and may sound or look official, but it’s important to know how thieves are operating and identify the authenticity of letters, emails, calls and websites. Below are some of the schemes offenders are using during this crisis.

Boozman has published the following notice to his website, along with other resources and information related to the coronavirus, which can be viewed by visiting https://www.boozman.senate.gov/public/coronavirus

Recovery Checks
In the coming weeks, Arkansans will be receiving recovery checks approved by Congress in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. There is no need to sign-up. The IRS will issue the one-time tax rebate check of $1,200 to every American whose 2018 tax return, or 2019 if filed, showed income at or below $75,000. Individuals without bank information provided will receive their recovery checks in the mail.

IRS representatives will not:
Require you to pay a fee; or
Ask you to confirm personal or financial information (including bank, PayPal or financial institution accounts.)

Click here for more information on the coronavirus recovery checks guidance issued by the IRS.

Social Security
Seniors citizens too often fall victim to scammers. The Inspector General of Social Security is warning about fraudulent letters some beneficiaries have received that threaten suspension of Social Security benefits due to coronavirus and related office closures. It’s important to remember:

Social Security will not: 
Threaten you with benefit suspension, arrest, or other legal action unless you pay a fine or fee;
Promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment;
Require payment by retail gift card, cash, wire transfer, internet currency, or prepaid debit card;
Demand secrecy from you in handling a Social Security-related problem; or
Send official letters or reports containing personally identifiable information via email.

Not only are scammers using letters to target seniors, but they’re using illegal robocalls. Government agencies won’t call to confirm your sensitive information. Listen to this call scammers are circulating so you can be prepared if you answer a similar call. Hang up if you find yourself on the receiving end of a call like this. Block the caller and report it to the FTC.

SNAP Benefits
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has received reports of possible fraud attempts targeting recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). USDA officials urge participants to be suspicious of any individual or organization that asks for your personal information including social security number, bank information and SNAP EBT or PIN number. In one potential scam, SNAP recipients were asked to enter their personal and bank account information on a website to qualify for coronavirus assistance.

Federal Trade Commission
The FTC supports consumers who believe they have been targeted by scammers. The agency reports an increase in coronavirus-related complaints nationwide and advises consumers to safeguard against these scams:

Undeliverable goods: A website advertises in-demand products like cleaning supplies and medical equipment. Unfortunately, the order never arrives.
 

Fake charities: Individuals want to help in trying times, but thieves create hoax charities that exploit on this generosity. The best thing to do is research charities online.
 

Fake emails, texts and phishing: Beware of fraudulent emails and texts that ask for your personal information. Sometimes links in these scam emails can install ransomware and lock you out of your computer.

Robocalls: Listen to some of the latest robocall pitches the FTC is warning that scammers are using to steal money and personal information:

Fake tests for Medicare recipients
Small business listing scam

The FTC has a lot of information that is helpful to avoid becoming of victim of scammers.

Avoid Coronavirus Scams
Seven Coronavirus scams targeting your business
Thinking critically about Coronavirus news and information
Socially distancing from COVID-19 robocall scams

If you suspect your or someone you know may have been the victim of a scam, you can file a complaint with the FTC.
 

NFIB SURVEY: CORONAVIRUS IMPACT ON SMALL BUSINESSES, PART 3
LITTLE ROCK (April 2, 2020) – The National Federation of Independent Business released the following data today on the impact COVID-19 has had on small businesses:

The NFIB Research Center’s latest survey on the current impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on small business shows continued deterioration of the small business sector. The severity of the outbreak and regulatory measures that cities and states are taking to control it are having a devastating impact on small businesses.  

Currently, 92% of small employers are negatively impacted by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, a continued escalation from 76% of small employers reporting negative impacts 10 days earlier. About 3% are positively impacted. These firms are likely experiencing stronger sales due to a sharp rise in demand for certain products, goods, and services. This will likely ease in the coming weeks as consumers feel more secure about their personal supply levels.

State-specific data is unavailable, but NFIB State Director Sylvester Smith said, "This is hard on our members, but they're determined to get through this, and they're