Although some Arkansas lawmakers want to scale back the governor’s emergency powers during the current coronavirus pandemic, they took no chances with their own health and safety on Monday.
The regular session convened in Little Rock, and in both the House and Senate chambers there were plexiglass partitions between its members.
According to an Associated Press report over the weekend, Arkansas is tied with South Dakota for having the second largest outbreak of COVID-19 cases in a state Legislature.
Information provided by the Arkansas House of Representatives states that a mask or other cloth face covering will be required to enter committee rooms and public comment holding rooms, and that all individuals will be submitted to a temperature check and onsite health screening at the entrance to either the State Capitol Building or the adjacent Multi-Agency Complex Building.
Rooms with space for social distancing are provided for members of the public to watch the session live streamed as they wait to testify for or against a bill.
Chamber proceedings and committees are live streamed and archived on the website www.arkansashouse.org.
Other issues expected to come up during the session include a hate crimes bill, tax cuts and “stand your ground” legislation.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is scheduled to provide his State of the State Address today to members of the Arkansas General Assembly at 10:30 a.m.
Meanwhile, the number of active coronavirus cases in Arkansas at the beginning of the week was 27,492. The state reported 3,330 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University say there were 1,253.5 new cases per 100,000 people in Arkansas over the past two weeks, which ranks sixth in the country for new cases per capita. One in every 148 people in Arkansas tested positive in the past week.
The state’s number of hospitalizations on Sunday was at 1,340. The state reported 33 deaths, bringing the death toll to 4,043.
In Greene County there have been 4,870 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases, with 430 current active cases and 59 deaths.