LITTLE ROCK — Officials said Monday afternoon there was only a nominal increase of nine more positive coronavirus patients over the previous 24 hours, but a directive will be issued Tuesday that all barber and beauty shops, tattoo studios, massage therapists and nail salons be closed temporarily.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the total number of positive cases in Arkansas was at 174 Monday afternoon, but he cautioned that most testing for the virus had been done in three nursing homes where the disease was recently discovered.
On Sunday, Hutchinson said the federal government bought most of national supply of personal protection equipment, or PPE, that healthcare workers need. That was stockpiled for states to request an allotment.
He said Arkansas received 25% of PPEs requested. After that was exhausted, all states would be on their own to find more. That meant Arkansas will be in competition with all the other states and every other country around the world struggling with the global pandemic.
But Hutchinson said Monday that the state entered into a contract with an overseas supplier for 2 million more units. He said that will require some time for production, but he was in hopes the contract would be honored.
In addition, the federal government agreed to release another 25% of the state’s request for PPE and that could be shipped later this week.
The effect of layoffs and people staying home will have a major impact on the state’s budget. Hutchinson said the state anticipates a $353 million shortfall in revenue by the end of the 2020 fiscal year on June 30.
That, Hutchinson said, will require a special legislative session to allow lawmakers to find ways to plug the holes in the state’s current budget while still allowing the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management, the state Health Department and other vital agencies to continue operating on the front lines of fighting the outbreak.
The deadline for individuals to file state income tax returns was extended to July 15 to mirror the federal government’s extension. The deadline for corporations and those estimating tax liability will remain the same as in past years.
State Health Secretary Dr. Nathaniel Smith said that of the total positive cases, 10 were children, 101 were adults ages 19-64 and 63 were ages 65 and older.
Nine were hospitalized and six were on a ventilator. Twenty-two had never been hospitalized, 14 had been in a ICU and 38 were in a nursing home.
Smith displayed a paper copy of a map that now appears on the Department of Health’s website. He said it would show counties in which positive coronavirus cases have been diagnosed and it is scheduled to be updated four times a day.
Smith said there has been interest in using chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which are used to treat some types of malaria, sometimes in conjunction with the antibiotic azithromycin to treat COVID-19.
He admitted that the drugs have been FDA approved, but not for treating COVID-19.
“I want to point out that we have very little evidence to show effectiveness for either chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine either alone or in combination and there are significant side effects and drug interactions that most physicians are not very familiar with,” Smith said.