President Donald Trump on Friday signed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill approved by the U.S. House on Friday and unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate earlier this week.
The stimulus package, the largest in U.S. history, provides billions of dollars for industries, businesses, health care providers, and state and local governments impacted by the CORONA-19 pandemic. It provides a one-time payment up to $1,200 for most American adults along with a $500 payment for each child. It also expands and extends unemployment benefits.
Meanwhile in Arkansas, the number of confirmed COVID-19 increased Friday to 384. Forty-eight of those are currently hospitalized.
Looking at a graph with models provided by the Arkansas Department of Health, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas could reach 2,000 by the first week in April and 3,500 by mid April.
“If you looked at even a 20 percent hospitalization rate and if you have 3,500 in two weeks that’s 700 cases that are hospitalized in our state,” Hutchinson said.
“This is modeling based upon what is happening in other states and what the experts tell us,” Hutchinson said. “It doesn’t mean it will happen in Arkansas, but those are the kinds of projections that we’re trying to anticipate and we’re sharing that story with you.”
If the modeling is correct, the number of cases and hospitalizations will continue to increase until it peaks which could be anywhere from April 25 to June 1.
“My goal is to beat those numbers,” Hutchinson said, adding that he also wants to prepare for a worst-case scenario.
To that end, Hutchinson on Friday authorized 10 additional Arkansas National Guard personnel to assist the Arkansas Department of Health and the Arkansas Corps of Engineers in expanding the state’s hospital bed capacity. In addition, the state also placed an order for 500 ventilators.
Hutchinson said he also asked law enforcement, state parks and the Arkansas Game & Fish to help enforce the state mandate prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people.
Watch Gov. Hutchinson’s coronavirus briefing: