Hutchinson: Arkansas doesn’t have testing it needs

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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — Governor Asa Hutchinson said the state of Arkansas does not have the testing it needs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hutchinson was in West Memphis n Tuesday, where he announced no new cases of the coronavirus, leaving the state for now at 22 total cases. None of those cases were in any way connected to east Arkansas, he said.

However, the number of cases will more than likely increase as the state works to expand its testing capabilities.

“We do not have the testing that we need to really be confident that we don’t have a greater issue than what we have,” he noted Tuesday. “As testing increases it is likely that the number of cases that have been identified will increase as well.”

Arkansas’ governor announced he’s also easing some of the restrictions for seeking unemployment benefits because of the coronavirus outbreak as two more casinos in the state temporarily closed.

He said the order on unemployment waives a one-week waiting period and makes those applying immediately eligible.

Hutchinson said he directed Arkansas’ three casinos to close for the next two weeks.

Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis and Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff say they are temporarily closing their facilities over concerns about the coronavirus, which causes the disease called COVID-19. Oaklawn announced Sunday it was closing its casino.

Hutchinson also declared a public health emergency for the state and ordered schools to close for two weeks. Students are expected to return to class on March 30.

The National Guard has been called to support the Arkansas Department of Health and its call center. They are prepared for further involvement if the need emerges, Hutchinson said.

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