Arkansas coronavirus cases up to 174; special session called to address $353 million budget shortfall

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas faces a $353 million budget shortfall because of the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Monday.

Hutchinson said the state was delaying its filing and payment deadline for individual income taxes from April 15 to July 15, mirroring a move by the federal government. Health officials announced the number of coronavirus cases in the state increased from 165 Sunday to 174.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.

Hutchinson said he planned to call a special session of the Legislature to address the shortfall. The Legislature is set to convene April 8 for this year’s fiscal session, which is focused primarily on the budget for the coming fiscal year.

State health officials on Monday also ordered hair salons, tattoo shops and nail salons to close. The state last week prohibited dine-in service at bars and restaurants and closed public schools until April 17.