Gov. Asa Hutchinson has authorized the release of $30 million to the Department of Finance and Administration for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care professionals and first responders as they test and treat patients who have contracted COVID-19.

Since the state’s first case of coronavirus was confirmed on March 11, it has spread rapidly through Arkansas. In order to ensure that the supply of protective gear is sufficient, Hutchinson sought emergency approval for a Various Temporal Appropriation Request. Larry Walther, secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA), submitted the request to the co-chairs of the Legislative Council and the co-chairs of the ALC PEER Subcommittee, who approved the request on behalf of the Legislative Council.

The $30 million is being allocated from the Budget Stabilization Trust Fund to a Disaster Assistance Grant, which will go into the Governor’s Disaster Fund. DFA will find and purchase the PPE, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences will distribute based upon priorities set by the Arkansas Department of Health. Local hospitals will participate in the bulk purchase and each will pay its portion of the overall purchase.

“The testers, first responders, nurses, and doctors are our first line of defense in the fight against this aggressive virus,” Hutchinson said. “They are risking their lives in the same way as firefighters who run into a burning building. We must provide them every piece of protection they need as they test and treat the Arkansans who have contracted COVID-19.”

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