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Two area state reps test positive for COVID-19; Hutchinson to limit activities

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that three Arkansas lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus, and the governor says he’s scaling back his public events after being exposed to someone with the virus.

Two state representatives from this area tested positive — State Rep. Stu Smith of Batesville (pictured) and Rep. Michelle Gray of Melbourne. One state senator, Terry Rice of Waldron, also tested positive.

Smith told White River Now this morning that so far, his case is very mild.

In a release to the media, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he has been doing regular business out of his office for the last six months. He said his meetings have been conducted with social distancing and mask-wearing as needed.

However, Hutchinson said at one meeting in the governor’s conference room last Friday, there was an individual attending who later tested positive for COVID-19. The governor said although he maintained social distancing from that individual, he has taken two tests and both have come back negative.

Hutchinson also noted the meeting did not rise to the level of quarantine guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, but out of concern for the comfort level of others in the meeting, he will be limiting his public appearances and be regularly tested over the next week.

Also on Tuesday, Senate President Jim Hendren said the Legislature was postponing its budget hearings after the two House members and one senator tested positive.

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 KZLEOutlaw 106.5, and Your FM 99.5. 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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