By: Luke Matheson

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As of Wednesday afternoon, 10 people in the state had died from the virus and 584 people had tested positive. At least 7,354 had tested negative and 42 had recovered. In the past 24 hours over 800 tests have been conducted in the Natural state, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson.

Hutchinson said that he will order state parks to be closed to overnight stays due to out of state visitors coming from COVID-19 hot spots and lack of social distancing at the parks.

“We will allow day trip only at state parks with no overnight stays at the parks,” said Hutchinson. “This gives Park Rangers ability to enforce guidelines to a greater extent.”

Hutchinson stated he has recommended the Secretary of Interior close the Buffalo River National Park as well.

“I will be recommending to Secretary of Interior that Buffalo River National Park be closed through this emergency until we feel it is safe to reopen,” said Hutchinson. “Yesterday 60 percent of visitors were from out of state. If we are going to try to limit out of state visitors due to COVID-19 we need to do this, and that is why I have made this recommendation.”

Additionally, Arkansas Secretary of Parks, Heritage and Tourism Stacy Hurst said that beginning Friday, some of the most crowded trails will be closed. She said those trails include Cedar Falls trail at Petit Jean Mountain State Park and the east and west summit trails at Pinnacle Mountain State Park.

Dr. Nate Smith confirmed in the 584 positive cases in Arkansas, there are 84 healthcare workers, 50 with diabetes, 40 with heart disease, 23 with lung disease, 18 with immuno-compromising conditions, 12 with chronic kidney disease, 8 pregnant women and 1 chronic liver disease.

Smith also stated that Jefferson County has had six more nursing home residents test positive for the virus, with four more cases being found in The Villages of General Baptist West nursing home, and two additional cases being confirmed in The Waters at White Hall nursing home.

Hutchinson also stated that he has requested a major disaster declaration for the state. A major disaster declaration signals that damage from a natural event is beyond the combined capabilities of state and local governments to respond, according to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency. Hutchinson said he expects President Donald Trump to approve the request, which would make a wide range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure available.