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Governor issues new coronavirus curfew

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11 p. m. closing time mandated by Hutchinson as virus numbers continue to rise across the state

[email protected] Governor Asa Hutchinson is requiring all Arkansas bars, restaurants and clubs that serve alcohol to close by 11 p.m. in an effort to curb a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

The early closing time will began Friday today and will remain in effect through Jan. 3, 2021, Hutchinson said (Yes, that includes New Year’s Eve).

Hutchinson said the move was recommended by a task force he formed to address the growth in virus cases this winter.

“This is a balanced approach that is limited and targeted as we work to reduce new COVID cases in our state,” Hutchinson said in a statement released by his office.

Hutchinson has resisted imposing new restrictions on businesses. Earlier this week, he rejected a White House panel’s recommendation that indoor restaurant dining capacities be scaled back significantly in most of the state. Nearly 300 doctors on Wednesday urged the governor to impose other restrictions, including closing bars and gyms.

On Friday, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 2,238 new cases in the state, and a total of 16,998 active cases.

There were 899 people hospitalized Thursday, which was down 2 from Wednesday, and 146 patients were on ventilators, which was up 3 from Wednesday.

There were 22 more COVID-19 deaths reported Thursday, bringing the total to 2,297. The state has seen a total of 139,855 COVID19 cases.

The Health Department reported that the top counties for new cases are Pulaski, 207; Washington, 131; Sebastian, 122; Benton, 110; and Craighead, 102.

“I will be addressing the high number of new cases in a Friday news conference,” Hutchinson said.

“Today we implemented the first recommendation of the COVID-19 Winter Task Force, and I will address hospital capacity tomorrow.”

This move is just the next in a series of measures Hutchinson has instituted over the last several days.

Last week, the governor called for the wearing of masks at all times for churchgoers across Arkansas.

Crittenden County is fast approaching a grim milestone of 3,000 positive COVID-19 cases. As of Friday, there have been 2,964 confirmed cases of the coronavirus locally, up 32 in just 24 hours. The county saw its first two coronavirus-related fatalities of the month last week, bringing the local pandemic death toll up to 55.

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