Excerpts of Today’s Media Update
We’re highlighting portions of the media update that seem relevant, but we encourage you to watch the full update. If you find a part that seems like it should be called out here, let us know.
More detailed excerpts will be added once time allows.
- Governor is issuing a statewide mandate for face coverings. Goes into effect next Monday.
- Number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths indicate we need to do more.
- Doctors and nurses ask the public to do more.
- Many legislators simply say, “I don’t like it, but whatever it takes, let’s get through this and give us the best chance for normal activities in the future.”
- If we’re going to require children to wear face coverings, then adults need to set the right example for them.
- It is a mandate, it does carry consequences, it is enforceable.
- In the last 24 hours, we had an increase in the commercial lab tests returned, which partially contributes to the increase in new cases.
- ADH grateful to governor for mask mandate and the exemptions.
- Baptist Health CEO Troy Wells says COVID-19 hospital census has doubled in a month, but we still have hospital capacity.
- Internal testing at Baptist Health is limited by the reagents they receive. Rely heavily on commercial labs.
- Baptist Health Center for Clinical Research is beginning a phase three clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more at http://arkansascovidvaccine.com/.
You mentioned that there’s a deeper dive available on the data. Are you referring to the state dashboard or are you referring to making city-level data available to the cities that have requested it?
Dr. Romero [22:30]:
I’m referring to the dashboard that’s available to you all.
Misty Orpin [22:33]:
Where does the ADH stand on releasing city-level data?
Dr. Romero [22:38]:
At this time, we’re not releasing it. We are in continuous talks about whether this should be done or not. But we’re staying with the — with it — with the website currently.
What would be the harm in releasing city-level data?
Governor Hutchinson [22:54]:
Let’s see if we look into that. I’m not sure whether that’s an IT issue and developing it and putting it out there, or whether it’s a policy issue. Do you know the answer to that?
Dr. Romero [23:05]
[Away from the microphone]
There’s also the issue of HIPAA. So, depending on the number of cases in the city, we don’t want to identify people.
[At the microphone]
So, there’s issues of HIPAA. It depends on the number of individuals. There is an IT issue and a policy issue. So, there’s there’s multiple factors going into this. It’s being discussed. It will continue to be discussed and when it is appropriate — if appropriate — the data will be made available.
At 11:30 this morning, ACHI and Arkansas Municipal League aired a discussion in which they displayed a slide of the top ten cities by number of cases per 100 population. All of the cities listed were under 7,000 population. The smallest city included was Danville with a population of 63, with 7 cases. The smallest number of cases was Smithville with 6 cases and a population of 138. The smallest rate of cases per population was Havana with 7.44%. The source of the data was listed as the Arkansas Department of Health. The date range appeared to be April 1 through July 1, 2019.
The Arkansas Department of Health currently displays county-level COVID-19 data. It lists total number of cases, recovered cases and deaths. The county with the smallest population, smallest number of total cases, lowest percentage of population and is Calhoun County with 5,368 population, 4 total cases (0.07% of their population).
There are 58 Arkansas cities (out of 501) with populations larger than Calhoun County.
Every municipality included on ACHI’s slide had more cases than Calhoun County.
- Governor resisted mask mandate because he doesn’t believe government coercion should be the first thing that you turn to.
- Governor says a mask mandate would not have been enforceable or accepted in April or May. We have built that acceptance through education and practice of industry.
- Is there an exemption for legislators in this building and in Big MAC? What is the enforcement in the state government? Everyone must wear one indoors when they cannot socially distance, even legislators. There may be a constitutional exemption for legislators when they’re in session, but the governor isn’t certain.
- Arkansas State Senator Bob Ballinger believes there should be a special session for the legislature to decide or discuss the mask issue. The legislature has acted and given the governor authority under our constitution to handle an emergency and to utilize powers to address the pandemic.
- If a county has no positive cases for 28 days, and they are doing adequate testing in that county, then they could be exempt from that requirement. Based upon CDC requirements for visitation in nursing home.
- Two days ago, Johnson County’s positivity rates were 98% two days ago, and 90% yesterday. Dr. Romero says he’ll look into that.
- Does the shift on mask mandates indicate the governor needs to be open to shifts on other decisions like rolling back reopenings depending on circumstances? Governor has always kept an open mind on that. This mask mandate is the best tool right now. It’s one tool among many.
- Fayetteville reduces in-class option to two days per week. Should there be financial assistance for the parents who must stay home to care for their children who cannot go to school for the other three days? If we address anything, it would be statewide. Fayetteville went off the state guidelines, which started with in-class instruction. There is funding available to help with childcare options.
- Will revisit the exemption for poll workers. Understands the need to exempt the voters. Governor will look more closely at the poll worker exemption.
- Governor is in-tune with local law enforcement. Hasn’t reviewed with them specifically.
- Requirement for new contact tracers was for there to be bilingual tracers. 24 bilingual tracers will come in with General Dynamics.
- Subgroup at ADH is meeting to discuss the CDC recommendations for NWA.
- The executive order supersedes any local ordinances.
- Governor won’t make a final decision regarding sending delegates to the Republican National Convention until closer to that time. Depends on where we are with the emergency here.