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COVID-19 briefing: Casinos set to reopen May 18; test positivity is low

Featured image: Texarkana, Ark. Mayor Allen Brown speaks at today’s COVID-19 statewide briefing.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson held his daily statewide briefing Thursday afternoon from Texarkana. The governor and officials were in the border city to help spread the word statewide about adhereing to COVID-19 guidelines in order to make it to Phase 2 of the national reopening criteria.

After his challenge on Wednesday for the state to have 60,000 tests processed by the end of May, the governor reported 2,174 tests were done yesterday. Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith said out of those tests, 97 individuals were positive — a very low positivity rate and a good sign of progress against the coronavirus in the state.

Hutchinson also announced restrictions on the three in-state casinos were set to be lifted on May 18. On that date, casinos will resume operations with only a third of capacity and strigent social distancing requirements in place.

Smith also noted that the director of the Centers for Disease Control, Robert Redfield, called him this morning and said he was pleased with the state’s numbers, saying Arkansas was an example for other states in saving lives and helping the economy recover quickly and responsibly.

Other news from Thursday’s Texarkana briefing:

  • Of the 97 new positive cases, 30 are from correctional facilities and 67 are from the community. The total number of positive cases is 3,665.
  • There have been 2,867 recoveries as of today.
  • Seventy patients are hospitalized. That is up one from Wednesday.
  • Fourteen are on a ventilator.
  • There have been 88 deaths. That figure is up three from Wednesday.
  • There are 266 nursing home residents testing positive while there have been 155 nursing home staff members that have tested positive.
  • There should be a decision on recreational team sports near the end of the month.



The new White River Now mobile app has started featuring regular COVID-19 updates and podcasts. In addition to the updates featured on the White River Now family of radio stations, the COVID-19 podcast section also features new interviews with Stone County Judge Stacey Avey, Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh, Independence County Judge Robert Griffin, state Sen. Stu Smith, and state Sen. James Sturch. Download the free White River Now mobile app today from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store, and keep up-to-date on all local and state coronavirus information and to listen to the streams of White River Now radio stations.

We also carry live feeds of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s COVID-19’s briefings on-air at Arkansas 103.3, online at White River Now’s Facebook page, and through the Arkansas 103.3 stream on the White River Now mobile app on Arkansas 103.3.

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Get up-to-date local and regional news along with the latest sports and weather every weekday morning by listening to Gary B. on Ozark Newsline, broadcast from the First Community Bank Newsroom on Arkansas 103.3. White River Now updates are also aired weekday mornings on 93 KZLE, Outlaw 106.5, and 99.5 Hits Now. Have a news tip or event to promote? Email White River Now at Be sure to like and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Add don’t forget to download the  White River Now mobile app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.


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