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AR Residents Being Monitored for Potential COVID-19

So far, 80 cases of coronavirus in 13 states have been reported in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Adobe Stock)
So far, 80 cases of coronavirus in 13 states have been reported in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Adobe Stock)
March 5, 2020

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The state says it's monitoring 61 travelers who recently returned home to Arkansas for possible COVID-19 infection.

So far, three individuals have tested negative for the novel coronavirus, and no cases have been identified.

But Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, medical director for immunizations and outbreak response at the Arkansas Department of Health, says it's only a matter of time.

"We are seeing in other states the beginning of community spread," she points out. "And it is very possible -- in fact, I would say likely -- that we will see additional community spread throughout the United States, and Arkansas at some point."

Dillaha says the department has received new kits designed to test residents for the virus and get speedy results, and notes that frequent hand washing for 20 seconds using hot, soapy water is the most powerful way to prevent the spread of both novel coronavirus and the seasonal flu.

Dillaha stresses that now is the time for communities, business owners and especially schools to come up with a plan to cope with any potential future spread of the virus.

"If we do have widespread COVID-19 in our communities, people need to give some thought as to how they will manage that," she states. "They need to think about what they're going to do if they have a large number of employees who are ill.

"Are there ways that their employees can do work from home? We all need to be thinking along these lines, and there's very good resources out there."

Websites such as ready.gov list strategies families can use to stay healthy in the face of an emerging public health threat.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - AR