COVID LOGO ASHLEY

Ashley County’s number of active COVID-19 infections remained steady over the last week, but complications from the virus claimed another local life.

As of Tuesday evening, the Arkansas Department of Health reported that the county had 18 confirmed active and two probable active cases. Probable cases are those that are confirmed using methods such as antibody-detection tests or diagnostic charts rather than the preferred polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing method. 

The ADH also recorded the 11th confirmed COVID-related death in the county over the course of the week. 

Ashley County has had 452 cases of COVID-19 recorded since the pandemic reached it this year.

In his weekly update about the state of the virus in Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said that since President Donald Trump announced he had been diagnosed with COVID-19, Arkansans seem to have exhibited, “a new level of seriousness and a new level of consistency” in regard to practicing the advised infection deterrents of wearing face coverings and social distancing of six feet.

The governor said the state had seen 84,203 total cases since the pandemic’s start and 1,469 deaths. 

As of Tuesday, 529 COVID patients were hospitalized statewide, a record high for Arkansas.

“We do have adequate hospital space, and there is sufficient room for the cases,” he said. We are not in a most difficult circumstance, but we do want to see those numbers go down over time.”

Hutchinson also continued to encourage residents to do what they could to avoid getting the flu, including getting a flu shot, to help keep hospital beds free in coming months.

“We have to remember that there is potential of flu and there is the potential for COVID,” he said. “We have viruses running around in the nation. Because of flu season and the risk of COVID, we don’t want double trouble this winter, and encourage everybody to get the flu shot and continue to be careful about COVID.

“We have a challenge before us, and we have to get things done in life, school and work, but (we must) never forget the seriousness of the virus.”

While the governor reminded the public of COVID’s seriousness, he announced Tuesday that the state would be revising its guidelines to allow more visits into nursing homes, saying that in some cases the ability to feel someone else’s touch is a medical necessity.

“Medically necessary visitation includes visitation related to medical treatment and visitation appropriate in compassionate care situations as determined by the resident’s physician or advanced practice registered nurse,” the directive he issued Tuesday says, “Visitation related to medical treatment includes visitation by health care workers who provide direct care to residents, including without limitation hospice workers, dialysis technicians, laboratory technicians, radiology technicians, and social workers.”

The directive also allows for, “Compassionate care situations…related to a resident’s end of life care as well as visitation by a resident’s friends and family members for residents who are struggling with a change in environment, lack of physical family support, grief after a friend or family member passes away, weight loss or dehydration because the resident is no longer receiving cueing or encouragement to eat or drink from caregivers or family members, and emotional distress due to not talking or interacting with others.”

In order to allow expanded visitation, the facility must not have a newly positive COVID case for two full weeks, as well as the ability to provide adequate protective equipment and to screen every visitor.

The full directive can be read at bit.ly/34zguX0.

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