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Coronavirus confirmed in Pine Bluff



LITTLE ROCK, Ark.  — Arkansas has recorded its first case of the new coronavirus, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday.

The patient is from Pine Bluff and is currently in isolation, he said. The governor also declared a public health emergency because of coronavirus, which has infected more than 1,000 people in the United States and killed at least 30.

The patient had traveled out of state recently but had no known international travel, the governor said.

Dr. Nathaniel Smith, state Health Department director, said officials will monitor any potential contacts the person had but said there’s no evidence at this point of the patient spreading it in Pine Bluff or elsewhere in the state.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.

Hutchinson said he was implementing a new policy for the next 60 days prohibiting out-of-state business travel for state employees without approval from a cabinet secretary. The governor also encouraged Arkansas residents to think carefully about trips they have planned, including whether they’re to places with large gatherings or areas with confirmed cases.

“These are reasonable questions Arkansans should ask themselves as they look at their travel plans, very similar to the questions we’ll be asking state employees,” he said.

Hutchinson, however, said he didn’t see a need for canceling events such as school activities. The governor said his cabinet secretaries have submitted the contingency plans he requested last month for continuing state operations in case of an outbreak.

Deltaplex Radio has reached out to Jefferson Regional and received the following statement:

It has been determined that we have one patient in our main facility with a “presumptive positive” case of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is currently working to confirm this case. The patient is receiving excellent care, and we are following all CDC and other prevention guidelines to protect patients, visitors and employees.

The risk is low for those who have not had direct contact with this patient. Out of an abundance of caution, we are limiting access to our facility. We ask that all visitors enter through our main 40th Avenue entrance or through our Emergency Department. All other entrances will be closed. You will be screened upon entering for fever and will be required to have the name of the patient you are visiting.

We are committed to provide our community with current and accurate information as it becomes available.