Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday announced new mandates when the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Arkansas nearly doubled since Wednesday.

Twenty-nine more people in Arkansas have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 62, according to the state Department of Health.

“This is not a surprise, it is simply a reflection of additional testing capacity that we have and tests are coming in from the commercial test providers as well,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said at his daily briefing on Thursday. “But it does reflect the fact that we do have continued challenges in Arkansas and we are starting to recognize the extent of the challeges we face. It is clear to me that we do have increasing community spread and whereas before it was primarily based upon travel, geography … we did have one instance of community spread and now there is more than just one.”

As a result, Hutchinson announced additional directives:

Schools will remain closed for three weeks, through April 17.

“K-12 schools will remain closed for onsite instruction an additional three weeks, until April 17,” Hutchinson said at his daily briefing. “That will then be re-evaluated based upon the public health conditions at the time.”

Education will continue under alternative instruction methods, Hutchinson said.

Hospitals, clinics and mental health facilities are mandated to screen staff and visitors through temperature and symptom screening.

“This is an important measure that many are already taking but it is important that all of them take these steps,” Hutchinson said.

State government employees will conduct business through teleconferencing, telecommuting and limited onsite work.

• Bars and restaurants will be closed for dine-in service and open for carryout and drive-through delivery.

Indoor venues, such as gyms, are closed to non-essential functions.

Status Update as of March 19, 2020, 2:31 p.m.
Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas 62
Arkansas Department of Health Lab positive test results 49
Commercial lab positive test results 13
Persons Under Investigation (PUI) 146
Persons being monitored by ADH with daily check-in and guidance because of an identified risk 509
Past PUIs with negative test results 351
Arkansas Department of Health Lab negative test results 247
Commercial Lab negative test results 104


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