State officials report new COVID-19 cases in Paragould, Jonesboro

8 cases on the same street in Paragould; five employees at St. Bernards Medical Center test positive, state officials say

State officials report new COVID-19 cases in Paragould, Jonesboro

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Dr. Nate Smith, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health, updated the public at 1:30 p.m. on the state’s response to the coronavirus, including the latest cases of COVID-19 and deaths.

The governor and state officials gave an update Friday on COVID-19 in Arkansas.

FULL BRIEFING 5/22: Gov. Hutchinson and ADH COVID-19 update for Arkansas

Of the new cases on Friday, Paragould was singled out with eight cases from the same street, state officials said.

Late Friday, Greene County Judge Rusty McMillon said he spoke with Paragould (Greene County) 911 Director Michael McCammon and Greene County Emergency Manager Erik Wright about the report on Paragould.

“It was reported that there are eight active cases on one street in Paragould. Michael McCammon ran the report that we are delivered from the State and found 15 active cases this afternoon, which was the same as the report from this morning,” McMillon said in a statement to Region 8 News. “We believe that what Dr. Smith was reporting was that there are currently 8 active cases that contracted the virus on one street in Paragould, hence the ‘one street report’, but we show 15 different locations for our current 15 current cases. The 8 cases are believes to have been from a single gathering of people.”

Currently, in the state of Arkansas there have been 5,612 to test positive for COVID-19.

Officials said 81 people have been hospitalized, and 113 have died.

The governor said that testing is going well.

Dr. Nate Smith noted five employees of St. Bernards Medical Center have tested positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Kasey Holder, St. Bernards Medical Center Vice President of Medical Affairs, released a statement to Region 8 News Friday.

“Every action our 2,700-plus team members take at St. Bernards Medical Center keeps the health and safety of our community top-of-mind. Recently, a select few St. Bernards employees began exhibiting symptoms related to COVID-19, requiring immediate home isolation and COVID-19 testing. Upon receiving a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, we began contacting all persons who may have interacted with these individuals," Dr. Holder said.

“First and foremost, the potential COVID-19 exposure is considered low risk. Because of the virus’s high transmission rates, our policy at St. Bernards Medical Center requires universal masking of all individuals inside the facility. Our employees only interacted with a small number of patients, and we have confirmed that all parties wore facial coverings during those interactions. Still, we have notified patients of the low-risk exposure and continue our strict adherence to guidelines from the Arkansas Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“With healthcare workers accounting for nearly 10 percent of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state of Arkansas, I commend our team for its dedication to the St. Bernards mission of providing Christ-like healing to the community; including those sickest among us. I also commend our team for implementing rigorous COVID-19 safeguards that protect every individual who enters our medical center. Among these safeguards, we have retooled our facilities to properly care for COVID-19 patients in separate areas from other patients.

“COVID-19 has changed how we, as a healthcare provider, offer care, but it has not changed our commitment to offer the safest, most advanced and most robust healthcare services in our region.”

KAIT St. Bernard's Statement

Unemployment numbers

Officials also said Friday that the April unemployment rate in the state was at 10.2%, below the national level of 14.7%.

As of 12 p.m., Friday, May 22, the state has received more than 8,000 requests for the Ready for Business grants.

The state has also paid more than 7,000 claims in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits.

The governor continues to remind people to maintain social distance.

Region 8 News is currently monitoring the briefing and will have more details later.

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