In December, Governor Hutchinson directed the Arkansas Department of Health to acquire 1.5 million rapid at-home tests to be available for free to Arkansans, according to a statement from the Governor’s office.
The State now has received the first shipment of 211,000 at-home testing kits. The process of delivering those to the respective distribution locations will begin shortly.
Governor Hutchinson stated that the cost of these tests is around $10 million. That cost will be covered by existing funds available in the COVID response budget. The tests will be available at public local libraries, public health units, and other locations. The National Guard will assist in the delivery of these at-home tests.
Hutchinson also applied for $50 million in Federal funding for Arkansas hospitals to acquire extra beds to help with the surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations. This request was approved by the Arkansas American Rescue Plan Act Steering Committee. The disbursement of this funding requires legislative approval.
The Arkansas American Rescue Plan Act Steering Committee was created by the Governor in 2020 to make recommendations on the distribution of approximately $1.57 billion in funding from the federal government.
The proposed plan includes adding 98 Covid ICU beds and 167 Covid medical beds to be funded for timelines of 28-45 days based on the recommendations from the Arkansas Department of Health.
The hospitals that will receive those beds are:
St. Bernards Medical Center in Jonesboro, Mercy Hospital in Rogers, Conway Regional Hospital in Conway, CHI St. Vincent Infirmary in Little Rock, CHI St. Vincent Infirmary in Hot Springs, Washington Regional Hospital in Fayetteville, Unity Health White County Medical Center, Baptist Health Medical Center in Conway, Baptist Health Medical Center in Van Buren, Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith, and Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.