Michael Tilley, with our partner Talk Business and Politics, discusses an apparent reluctance of many firefighters in Fort Smith to accept a vaccine to prevent COVID-19, water bill adjustments following last month's winter storms, and the future of the former Fianna Hills Country Club and golf course.

Courtesy / CDC

Fewer Arkansans are catching influenza this season, data show. Experts believe it may be due to COVID-19 NPI's, or non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as masking, hand washing and social distancing. We hear from Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, state epidemiologist and medical director for immunization and outbreak response at the Arkansas Department of Health. 


As we near the one year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic's arrival in Arkansas, more Arkansans are becoming eligible for vaccinations. During his weekly coronavirus response briefing on Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson expanded the current phase 1B of the state's vaccine rollout to food processing workers, which will make an additional 49,000 people eligible for the shot. Last month, the governor expanded vaccine eligibility to people between the ages of 65 and 70.

After a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations stressed the Arkansas health care system in January, February offered a welcome respite as hospitalizations and cases declined around the state. In our monthly conversation with the assistant editors of, we discuss these declines, as well as how a data cleanup by the Arkansas Department of Health impacted averages and totals on the final day of the month.

John Brummett, political columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, speaks with Roby Brock, from our partner Talk Business and Politics, about Gov. Asa Hutchinson's changes to the state's public health directives and whether they could mean an end to the public health emergency.

Courtesy / U.S. Secretary of Defense

The Health Resources and Services Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are partnering with federally qualified health centers to ensure equity in COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Community Clinic is the first center in Arkansas selected for participation in the initiative.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson held another coronavirus response briefing this morning to make three announcements. The first was that he is extending the public health emergency declaration for another 30 days until March 31. The continuation of the declaration, Hutchinson said, allows for continued Medicaid reimbursements for telehealth, business liability protections and remote learning options for school districts.

Courtesy / Division of Workforce Services

This week, Legal Aid of Arkansas, a nonprofit that represents low-income Arkansans in civil legal proceedings, filed a lawsuit against the Arkansas Department of Commerce and its Division of Workforce Services. According to the organization, DWS has repeatedly refused to turn over records requested through the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act that might provide a better understanding of why scores of Arkansans haven't been abele to access unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

courtesy / NWA Ballet Theatre

The Northwest Arkansas Ballet Theatre is adapting William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream for its first live performance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Three shows are scheduled for March 12 and 13 at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville.  

Gov. Asa Hutchinson started his weekly coronavirus response briefing by acknowledging a somber milestone as the U.S. surpassed half a million COVID-19 deaths this week. That total includes more than 5,000 Arkansans. He then announced the state would be expanding vaccination eligibility to people 65 and older. Hutchinson said the state decided to move the group up in the vaccination line from phase 1C to phase 1B because that population has high instances of COVID-19 co-morbidities that lead to worse outcomes.