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Coronavirus in Arkansas: Governor, state officials announce phase one of reopening state parks starting May 1

News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson and other state leaders announced Tuesday the first phase of reopening Arkansas State Parks with a target date of May 1.

State officials say on the target date of May 1, camping will be available for in-state residents with self-contained recreational vehicles. State officials say a contactless check-in will be used. State officials say campground bathhouses will not reopen at that time.

State officials say on the target date of May 15, restaurants and food service facilities, museums and exhibits, retail, marinas and retail equipment will be open to a limited capacity with social distancing enforced. The retail will include vistor centers, gift shops and golf pro shops.

Hurst said the restaurants in state parks will be subject to guidelines from the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Also starting May 15, officials say reservations for cabins, lodges and Rent-A-RV will be open for in-state residents only, but limited for Friday through Monday reservations to allow for cleaning.

Stacy Hurst, Secretary of the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, said following the governor’s announcement, “We want to invite Arkansas residents back to our parks”.

Hurst said Dr. Nate Smith, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health, approved the recommendations before it went to the governor’s office.

Hurst said park staff are instructed to maintain safe social distance and to also encourage visitors to do the same.

According to Hurst, some high-use trails will remain closed for now.

Hurst said more information will be available on the State Park’s website and social media pages.

Hurst said if these measures become problematic then her department will re-examine and make new recommendations.

The governor also announced Tuesday that there were 3,111 cases in the state, which is an increase of 94 from Monday.

State officials say of the 94 test increase, 20 are from the Cummins Unit and 74 are from the community.

Dr. Smith said of the total number of cases, 1,913 are considered active cases, which is a decrease of 67 from the previous day.

According to state officials, 104 people are hospitalized due to the coronavirus.

Twenty people are on ventilators because of the coronavirus. State officials say that number decreased by five within the last 24 hours.

Two more people have died from complications of the coronavirus in Arkansas, bringing the state’s death toll to 52.

Dr. Smith said Tuesday 860 inmates at the Cummins Unit and 51 staff have tested positive for the virus.

Eighty-seven inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution in Forrest City and 12 staff have tested positive, according to Smith.

Governor Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday 159 people had recovered from the virus in the last 24 hours.

State officials say 30 people who have recovered from the virus have donated plasma and 13 people have received the donations. State officials say they have seen positive results and UAMS is starting a trial.

According to the governor, the state will reach the two percent threshold for testing its population in May.

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