Eleven more people in Arkansas have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 33, according to the state Department of Health. There are now confirmed cases in Bradley, Faulkner and Washington counties as well as the previously reported cases in Cleveland, Lincoln, Desha, Jefferson, Pulaski, Saline, Garland and Cleburne counties.

Status Update as of March 18, 2020
Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas 33
Arkansas Department of Health Lab positive test results 26
Commercial lab positive test results 7
Persons Under Investigation (PUI) 50
Persons being monitored by ADH
with daily check-in and guidance because of an identified risk
Past PUIs with negative test results 236
Arkansas Department of Health Lab negative test results 185
Commercial Lab negative test results 51

People who think they may have Covid-19 should call their health care providers as their first step, according to the state Department of Health.

The Arkansas Department of Health has activated a call center to answer questions from health care providers and the public about the novel coronavirus. During normal business hours, from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m, urgent and non-urgent calls, call 1-800-803-7847 or email [email protected]. After normal business hours, urgent calls needing immediate response, call 501-661-2136.

Meanwhile, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced relief for businesses, child-care providers to ease COVID-19 impact.

Arkansas will tap Community Development Block Grant funds and the state’s Quick Action Closing Fund to support small businesses and nonprofits that are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hutchinson announced at a press conference at the Capitol.

Hutchinson made a formal request for a disaster declaration for small businesses, which will open up loans of up to $2 million in working capital.

“Arkansas and the nation are enduring a jolt to the economy and a huge loss of revenue,” Hutchinson said. “The state cannot cover every loss of business, but we can help with bridge loans to assist companies, nonprofits, and child-care-voucher providers weather this slowdown and retain workers during this national emergency.”

The state will allocate $12 million in block grant money and up to $4 million from the quick-action fund to provide bridge loans to help midsize companies and nonprofits remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state will also increase reimbursement for child-care voucher providers who care for children who receive federal child-care assistance and that remain open through March 27.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) will suspend the renewal process for child-care vouchers for 30 days. DHS will expedite the process and temporarily relax limits on capacity for providers. More than 800 child-care providers have closed.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will suspend the work requirement through the end of April. DHS also will expedite decisions about SNAP eligibility for those who lose income because of COVID-19.

Watch Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s March 18 COVID-19 Update: