GOV: “NEA now the area of concern,” for increased COVID-19 cases; Teachers get COVID sick leave

FULL BRIEFING 8/7: Gov. Hutchinson and state officials COVID-19 update for Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - Gov. Asa Hutchinson updates the public on the state’s response to the coronavirus, including the latest cases of COVID-19 and deaths.

Hutchinson announced the state saw 1,011 new coronavirus cases, nine more hospitalizations, and six more deaths. While the number of new cases is high, the governor did say the state tested 6,224 people over the last 24 hours. Gov. Hutchinson said it was a “good day in testing, but the cases are still, “too high.”

Governor Hutchinson also announced an emergency leave for school employees, to include up to two weeks of paid leave if they have to quarantine for COVID-related reasons.

Arkansas State Education Secretary Johnny Key says that school employees can use this first before having to use sick leave, FMLA, etc.

He says the $20 million is an estimate.

Key said, “expecting everything student on campus every day is not how what I said should be interpreted. The expectation is that school classrooms should be open 5 days a week for children to learn.”

Hutchinson said, “The decisions being made about school are not economic. They are education-driven and children-focused. They’re made with consultation from CDC, Dept of Health and Dept of Education.”

Hutchinson assures Jonesboro School Supt. Kim Wilbanks regarding her comments that the decisions being made are not economic driven, but children driven focus.

Hutchinson signed an executive order stating that a COVID-19 concern will qualify voters for an absentee ballot. Hutchinson said county clerks can prepare ballots in advance to make counting easier on Election Day.

“I am signing an executive order to provide absentee ballots for people who are not comfortable going to the polls in November due to COVID-19 related reasons, and to allow for those ballots to be counted beginning on the morning is Election Day,” Hutchinson said.

Watch the full briefing live on-air or online here>>>

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