County sees increase in virus cases despite state mask mandate

Miranda Holman
Paris Express Editor

Logan County has seen COVID-19 cases continue to rise despite the mask mandate for the state of Arkansas. As of Monday, 261 cases of the virus were reported for Logan County, a 103 case increase from last Monday.

In addition to the rise of cases, 128 cases were reported as active, according to the Arkansas Department of Health, with 132 recovered cases and 3,737 negative tests. Logan County had its first coronavirus reported death on Sunday, August 2.

Arkansas has a total of 49,383 reported positive COVID-19 cases, 7,387 active cases, 41,452 recoveries, and 544 deaths. Of those deaths, 149 have been related to nursing homes and 30 COVID-19 deaths related to correctional facilities. Arkansas has seen 70% of the deaths in people 65 and over, for a total of 370 deaths. 25% of the deaths have been accounted for in the 45-64 age group and 5% in the 25-44 age group. There have been no deaths reported in the 0-24 age group. 59% of total deaths were White, 27% Black, 6% Pacific Islander, 6% other and 1% Asian. No deaths were accounted for in the American Indian population.

Sebastian County has reported the most cases among bordering counties with 2,176 positive cases and 20 deaths. Yell County has had 1,066 cases with 14 deaths. Yell had no increase in deaths reported since last Monday. Scott has the lowest number of cases among the bordering counties with 61 cases, 25 active cases and no deaths. Franklin and Johnson Counties have both had two deaths attributed to the virus.

Due to the rise of cases in Arkansas, Governor Asa Hutchinson issued an executive order that would allow Arkansans to vote absentee if they are concerned that voting in person may be a risk to their health or the health of others because of COVID-19.

The Executive Order 20-44 also allows elections officials to start processing the absentee ballots a week earlier than usual to allow for an anticipated increase in the number of absentee voters. The order was in response to an official request from the Arkansas Association of County Clerks.

“This order affirms Secretary of State John Thurston’s position that the fear of exposure to COVID-19 or of exposing others at the polls is reason enough for a voter to cast an absentee ballot,” Governor Hutchinson said. “If a significant number of voters chooses that option, elections officials could be overwhelmed. We’ve already seen a significant increase in the number of applications for absentee ballots. This executive order builds in extra time for them to process and authenticate absentee ballots to ensure an accurate count and a fair election.”

According to a spokesperson for Gov. Hutchinson, the additional number of days for processing ballots will coincide with the 15-day early voting period, which during that time, election officials will be allowed to process only the registration information from the outer envelopes of an absentee ballot. The deadlines for applying for an absentee ballot and submitting a completed ballot remain the same.