On today's show, we have the latest information from Governor Asa Hutchinson's daily coronavirus response briefing ahead of Memorial Day weekend. Plus, we hear about the strict rules Arkansas dentists have to negotiate to open safely. And, we find out how Emmy-nominated composer and installation artist Amos Cochran is adapting to working as a musician during the pandemic.

Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, Governor Asa Hutchinson gave an update on the distribution of funds from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Arkansas Ready for Business programs and stressed the importance of practicing social distancing heading into the holiday weekend. As of noon, the PUA website accepted more than 7,100 applications from unemployed self-employed workers. More than 3,000 checks should go out to approved claimants tonight. Between 60 and 70 people will be working through the weekend to expedite approved PUA claims.

Michael Tilley, with our partner Talk Business and Politics, discusses how an economic slowdown has affected tourism in the Arkansas River Valley and why a stoppage of events around the world has had a big impact on Fort Smith business.

Self-employed Arkansans approved for CARES Act Pandemic Unemployment Assistance are starting to receive cash benefits following weeks of technical delays. According to Arkansas Secretery of Commerce Mike Preston, out of 33,000 applicants, over 19,000 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance applicants have received interim approval.

 

As of May 11, dental clinics across Arkansas are treating patients again, under strict state COVID-19 directive requirements to protect both patients and practitioners. Dr. Pierce Osborne, president of the Arkansas State Dental Association, says compliance with the challenging new directive raised concerns among certain stakeholders, which are being resolved. 

As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, Bentonville School District will open its virtual learning program to all students come August when schools are expecting to resume in-person instruction. The district already offered virtual learning to students grades five through 12 for a couple of years, but it will expand the program to students in grades K through four.

Courtesy / Taudalpoi and Heli Mistry

For many musicians, the COVID-19 pandemic brought their concert schedules to a screeching halt. Some have adapted by hosting virtual performances. Emmy-nominated composer and installation artist Amos Cochran is adapting by setting a goal to produce seven new works by the end of the year. Niente is the first of those and it's being released digitally May 22.

On today's show, we get an update from Governor Asa Hutchinson who announced the single-highest increase in coronavirus cases in the state in a 24-hour period. Plus, we head to the Fayetteville Public Library for a tour of the ongoing expansion project. And, we find out how the Walton Arts Center and a local textile shop are connecting with people while their in-person operations remain shut down.

In today's daily coronavirus response briefing, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the highest increase in positive coronavirus cases in a 24 hour period with 455 cases. According to state Secretary of Health Nate Smith, 229 of those cases are from the federal correctional facility in Forrest City. The governor also issued guidelines for community and school team sports that go into effect on June 1 and provided an update on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance website, which is now back online.

Courtesy / Fayetteville Public Library

The Faytteville Public Library's expansion project continues and we get a tour, with masks on and safety in mind, from Sam Palmer, the director of facilities at the library. The construction and renovation of the existing library space is scheduled for completion this fall.

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World and Area News

New York is "decidedly in the reopening phase," Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday, as the state hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic gave sports leagues, campgrounds and veterinarian offices the green light to start up again, with modifications.

Professional sports leagues in the state are now able to begin training camps, Cuomo said during his daily press conference, adding that having teams come back, even without spectators, would mark a "return to normalcy."

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Can Americans return to fun in the sand and in the water while keeping themselves safe from the coronavirus? That's a question being put to the test this Memorial Day weekend as many Americans flock to newly reopened beaches, like Los Angeles' famed Venice Beach.

Except for still-closed stores that usually sell souvenirs to tourists and signs reminding people to wear masks, Venice Beach looked much like its normally eclectic self this weekend.

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