Governor Asa Hutchinson addressed the COVID-19 crisis Friday in his weekly radio address:

LITTLE ROCK – Today I’d like to talk about the professionals who are on the front lines at the hospitals and clinics all over Arkansas who are treating our COVID-19 patients and doing the critically important testing work.

These nurses, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, and doctors are our first line of defense against COVID-19. They are putting their lives at risk in the same way that firefighters do when they run into a burning building. During this pandemic, these professionals have been reporting to work because they care for people and that is their life calling.

At least 158 health care providers have tested positive for COVID-19. We hope that they recover quickly.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that sets up in the lungs and requires the skills of a pulmonologist and a respiratory therapist if ventilator treatment is necessary.

A Little Rock registered respiratory therapist has described the effect of COVID-19 on the lungs as similar to the struggle to breathe if you climbed Mount Everest without oxygen.

The respiratory therapists measure, assess, and evaluate peak airway pressure, mean airway pressure, compliance, resistance, and monitor the pulmonary infection. The symptoms of COVID-19 are especially severe and hard to control.

While COVID-19 remains somewhat of a mystery killer, I am encouraged by the numbers we see at the present in Arkansas. We are seeing these positive signs because of the way Arkansans have adapted to the temporary limitations we have imposed on our daily lives.

The best way to help our front-line professionals is to continue to wash your hands, keep your distance, and stay at home if at all possible. If you have to get out, wear a mask to protect others. The more we practice these preventative measures, the sooner we will move past this pandemic.

Thanks to everyone who has risen to the challenge, from the people who are taking samples at drive-through testing sites in our clinics, to the professionals in the emergency rooms and intensive care units. Our prayers are with you.

I also wanted to mention the importance of this weekend since we celebrate both Passover and Easter. For me, Easter has always meant getting together for church and with family. This week, the First Lady and I will celebrate Easter away from the family and by watching the service on the Internet. It is important that we resist the temptation to get together because that risks the spread of the virus. Let’s get through this so that we will have many more Easters to celebrate in the future.