Governor Issues New Guidelines for Houses of Worship, Urges Caution During Holidays

Nov 11, 2020

Governor Asa Hutchinson started his weekly coronavirus response briefing on Tuesday by saying there was very little good news in the day's numbers. He then reported more than 1,400 new confirmed and possible cases of COVID-19 across the state and cautioned the number of cases will likely continue to rise in the immediate future following Halloween and other gatherings. Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said that holiday and those that have come before it should serve as a lesson for the holidays coming up, especially as many gatherings move indoors. He also urged families against taking loved ones who live in assisted living facilities out of those living situations for the holidays as they are the age group that has been most impacted by COVID-19. The governor also issued a new guideline for houses of worship that states face coverings should be worn at all times during services as the singing of hymns has become a primary driver of transmission in those settings. Arkansas Secretary of Education Johnny Key also provided an update. He said last week, 21 schools in Arkansas had to modify their learning situations because of positive cases, which is an increase from just six school modifications the week before. Key also dispelled a rumor that all schools will be pivoting to virtual learning after Thanksgiving. He said no such recommendation has been made to the governor. Hutchinson said he is not considering any further restrictions in the state and repeated that wearing a mask, staying socially distant and washing hands frequently is the best way to keep COVID-19 at bay. Tuesday's case report included 20 counties with more than 20 new cases and three, including Washington and Benton Counties, with more than 100 new cases. Since the pandemic began in March in Arkansas, there have been more than 2,100 confirmed and probable deaths from the virus. More than two-thirds of those have been people 65 and older. To watch the full briefing, click here.