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 Hutchinson gives Dr. Romero’s background.
- Chicot County has the highest number of new cases due to the correctional facility there. Pulaski County is the highest after that.
- Governor addresses the latest UAMS predictive models (which are just short-term projections). He appears to give them more credence today than he has in the past.
- ADH has new directives for school-sponsored music programs.
- State plans to test 100% of inmates in state prison facilities by the end of August 2020. There are 19 state facilities. Ten of the units have already been tested. Governor has authorized 10 National Guard personnel to assist in this.
- Education Secretary Key announces a new call center resource, a Ready for School Resource Call Center. It opened on Monday. It is for parents and teachers to call with questions.
- Operates from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday-Friday.
- Arkansas Surgeon General Bledsoe gives update from advisory group on high school sports.
- Governor says compensation for teachers during quarantine/isolation is handled by the district.
- Governor alludes to additional pending plans that might give teachers confidence in the event they have to be isolated.
- Governor says it is no surprise that schools in other states have had positive cases. They’ve addressed these issues and tried to move on.
- Secretary Key highlights the resilience of children. Texas has had success in having their children keep their masks on in school settings.
- Sports advisory group exists to give their counsel/guidance to the governor and the Department of Health.
- Governor is not aware of any new cases arising from the high school contact sports.
- Secretary Key speaks on the state requirement for school districts to provide five days a week of “on-site student-teacher interaction.”
- Standardized testing requirement is a federal requirement. That requirement was waived in spring, but has not been waived in the fall.
- Dr. Romero was asked if ADH is creating metrics that can be used to determine when a school/district should close. Dr. Romero says there are no metrics and that the decision to close a school is left to the superintendents. ADH will be available to assist in discussions in reaching that decision. Dr. Romero then said he misspoke. Secretary Key talks about the system of Response Levels from the Department of Education (Response Levels for On-Site Learning). Those Response Levels do give flexibility to the superintendents, but those Response Levels do have to be discussed with the ADH and Department of Education. Note: Then it would seem that the metrics in those Response Levels are still very subjective, using phrases like “limited spread within the school and/or community, as determined by ADH.”
- Dr. Romero is asked about the recent study (titled “Age-Related Differences in Nasopharyngeal Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Levels in Patients With Mild to Moderate Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)”) showing that children under 5 had anywhere from 10 to 100 times the amount of viral RNA in their upper respiratory tract. Dr. Romero says that the study did not show that the children spread it more, but that they had more of the virus. “I don’t think I’m going to have to backtrack. I think what we’re going to have to is simply modify the statement based on newer information. And that’s what science and medicine is. It’s based on the current level of knowledge. And we’re learning more every day.”
- A reporter also asks about public speculation that hospitals are padding their COVID-19 patient numbers in order to receive more state funding. Governor is not aware of any issue related to that.
- Governor has indicated that Arkansas is interested in joining the interstate cooperative purchasing agreement that several other states have joined, in order to magnify purchasing power for antigen testing, point-of-care testing, and to protect the supply chain. He wants a few more details first.
- Governor and Dr. Bledsoe speak about bring football back, all the factors that come into play.
- Governor and Secretary Key speak in more detail about the requirement for in-person instruction. Secretary Key avoids giving clear answer on whether there is any enforcement from the Department of Education when a district does not abide by that requirement.