Gov. COVID-19 update: Special session begins tomorrow; directive to possibly be issued regarding gatherings of 10 or more

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced at his daily COVID-19 briefing that the special legislative session to address the $353 million revenue shortfall due to the coronavirus will begin tomorrow at 1 p.m. Based on his conversations with leaders of both the House and the Senate, Hutchinson says he feels the necessary votes are there.

In another step to help slow the spread of the virus through the state, the governor also announced the Arkansas Department of Health will soon issue a directive based on the earlier recommendation to limit gatherings to ten people or less. The directive will carry the power of law and will be enforced, Hutchinson said.

With warm, sunny conditions in the forecast, the governor and other state health officials encouraged people to get outside — but also stressed citizens to be responsible. By strictly adhering to the recommended steps to protect yourself and others, the prospect of a potential statewide shelter-in-place could lessen, Hutchison said. At this time, the governor says he’s opposed to a strict shelter-in-place order like other state governors have recently implemented.

In other news, the Arkansas Medical Board and the Arkansas Nursing Board are fast-tracking emergency temporary licensures. Medical residents who have completed one year of residency can apply. Overall, licensure of 100 new physicians have been expedited in the month of March, while the nursing board reported the licensure of 300 new nurses. Arkansas nurses who have been laid off from specialty, non-essential surgery clinics can also apply to the state board for possible referral to other medical fields that are battling the coronavirus.

Here are other bullet points from today’s briefing:

  • As of 2:30 p.m., the number of positive cases in Arkansas is up from yesterday’s figure of 218 to 280 — a jump of 62 cases.
  • The number of negative test results has increased to 1,437.
  • There have been 11 recoveries in the state.
  • The current death rate still stands at two individuals.
  • Drew County and Hot Springs County have reported positive cases.
  • As of last week, there were around 9,400 unemployment filings in the state. This week, the number is down a bit to around 8,700.
  • Gov. Hutchinson told those making unemployment filings to be patient. The wait time on the phone is running 25 minutes, the governor said, but upgrades are in the process, and the system should soon be running smoother.
COVID stats 03252020Screenshot from the Arkansas Department of Health’s COVID-19 statewide stats as of this afternoon.


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 Sen. James Sturch, Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh, Stone County Judge Stacey Avey, and state Rep. Stu Smith. Download the free White River Now 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, online, and through the White River Now app on Arkansas 103.3 KWOZ and on White River Now’s Facebook page.

Layout 1Get 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 KWOZWhite River Now updates are also aired weekday mornings on 93 KZLEOutlaw 106.5, and 99.5 Hits Now. Have a news tip or event to promote? Email White River Now at news@whiterivernow.comBe 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.


FDA Will Let Doctors Treat Critical Patients With Blood From Covid-19 Survivors

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved investigating treatment options for the outbreak by using plasma collected from recovered COVID-19 patients. Doctors in China have already tried these specific COVID-19 treatments using what the history books call “convalescent serum,” also known as donated plasma.

However, there’s no guarantee it will work. Dr. Arturo Casadevall of Johns Hopkins University’s school of public health told The Associated Press: “We won’t know until we do it, but the historical evidence is encouraging.”

The FDA is still continuing to work with its government partners including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop master protocols in order to coordinate the collection and use of COVID-19 plasma. 

Editorial credit: JHVEPhoto /

Texas’ Lieutenant Governor Faces Backlash After Saying U.S. Should “Get Back To Work” Despite Covid-19 Risks

Texas’ Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is saying that the U.S. should get back to work in the face of the global pandemic and that people over the age of 70, who the Centers for Disease Control says are at higher risk for the coronavirus, will “take care of ourselves.”

Patrick, 69, went on Fox News after President Donald Trump said that he wanted the country to get back to business in weeks.  Said Patrick: “No one reached out to me, and said, as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren? And if that is the exchange, I am all in. Let’s get back to work. Let’s get back to living. Let’s be smart about it,” Patrick said. “And those of us who are 70 plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country.”

However on Tuesday, Patrick’s office released the following statement to clarify his position on when people should get back to work:  “I was very clear last night that we should continue President Trump’s 15-day plan and if he believes we need more time, then we need more time. I trust his judgment. But at some point, sooner rather than later, we must get back to work before our nation totally collapses.”

“We can do two things at once — address the health care crisis and get people their jobs back — while following the CDC guidelines in a smart way. When you close the doors of every business in America, you cannot help but destroy the economy and with it, the opportunity for the next generation to live the American dream.”

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick suggests the elderly should risk their lives to save the economy


Carolina Panthers Release QB Cam Newton After Nine Seasons

Carolina Panthers have released Cam Newton after failing to find a trade partner for the veteran quarterback.” data-reactid=”16″ type=”text”>The Carolina Panthers have released Cam Newton after failing to find a trade partner for the veteran quarterback. The Panthers tried to trade Newton to the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Chargers, but couldn’t seal a deal.

The release of Newton signals the end of a nine-year career with the Panthers that saw Newton earn Rookie of the Year and MVP honors, leading the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance after the 2015 season.

The Panthers agreed to a three-year, $63 million deal with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater last week, signaling the end of Newton’s time with the team. That same day, the Panthers announced that they had given Newton permission to seek a trade. 

Carolina Panthers release QB Cam Newton to complete overhaul


Editorial credit: Action Sports Photography /

NY Mets Pitcher Noah Syndergaard To Uundergo Tommy John Surgery

NY Mets right-handed pitcher Noah Syndergaard will undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday due to a torn UCL in his right elbow, the team announced on Tuesday.

“After experiencing discomfort in his elbow before Spring Training was suspended due to the pandemic, Noah and our health and performance department have been in constant contact,” Brodie Van Wagenen said in a statement. “Based on the persistence of his symptoms, Noah underwent a physical examination and MRI that revealed the ligament tear. A second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache confirmed the diagnosis and the recommendation for surgery. Noah is an incredibly hard worker and a tremendous talent. While this is unfortunate, we have no doubt that Noah will be able to return to full strength and continue to be an integral part of our Championship pursuits in the future.”

Recovery from Tommy John surgery for pitchers is ordinarily 12-to-16 months, likely putting the earliest return for Syndergaard at Opening Day of the 2021 season. Syndergaard had been expected to be the Mets’ No. 2 starter behind Jacob deGrom.

Noah Syndergaard to Undergo Tommy John Surgery


Editorial credit: Debby Wong /

Obituary: William “Billy” Danner

William “Billy” Danner, 36, of Pleasant Plains, left this life on Friday, March 20, 2020.

He was born in Brinkley on November 18, 1983, to James E. and Cheri Reeves Hendrix.

Billy was a loving father to his children and a loving and supportive husband to his wife Becky.  His favorite times were duck hunting with his dad and his boys.  He loved his girls and always called them his “princess.” He has always been a diehard Razorbacks fan and collected anything with the Razorback logo on it.  He loved to collect ball caps.

Billy is survived by his wife, Rebecca of Pleasant Plains; sons, Chance and Austin Danner, of Pangburn, Draven Danner, of Searcy, Daniel Jaco, of Pleasant Plains, and Michael Jaco, of New Braunfels, Tex.; daughters, Autumn and Rhyley Danner, of Pangburn, Elizabeth Jaco, of Pleasant Plains, and  Zoey Danner, of the home; mother, Cheri Hendrix, of Ward, sisters, Joy (Wes) Armstrong, of Ward, Mandy (Wesley) Minnie, of Ward; brothers, James A. Hendrix, of Paris, James E. (Marissa) Hendrix, of Heber Springs, Kevin Danner, of Farmington, and Robert Hendrix, of York, Pa.

He was preceded in death by his father; grandfathers, William H. Reeves, and James H. Hendrix; grandmothers, Juanita Warfield, and Earline Mirell.

A Celebration of Life will be at a later date.

Pallbearers include Sammy Phillips, Kevin Bloesch, Jamae Morgan, Wyat Gambill, Wade Gambill, Wesley Minnie, Wesley Armstrong, and William Havner.

Honorary Pallbearers include Luke Williams, Chance Danner, Austin Danner, Draven Danner, Michael Jaco, Matthew Gilbert.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in honor of Billy to Doty Southside Funeral Service, 2180 Batesville Blvd, Batesville, AR 72501.