Update on Local Response to Virus Pandemic

Thursday, April 2, 2020

The lives of local residents continue to change due to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is an overview of some of the latest announcements and/or changes related to the local battle against the virus.

PCH Bans Visitors

Piggott Community Hospital continues to battle on the front lines of the current COVID-19 pandemic, and have tested dozens of area residents for the virus. Looking for other ways to stem its spread locally, they have also made changes to their visitation policy. Beginning today, Wednesday, April 1, visitors are no longer allowed in the facility.

PCH Administrator James L. Magee reports the local hospital had conducted 89 tests for the coronavirus as of Monday, with two of those positive. As with the first positive test from last week, the second person testing positive for the coronavirus was also a resident of Dunklin County, Mo.

“We're using the Arkansas Department of Health guidelines to determine the risk factor of patients,” Magee said of the issue. “The tests from those who are considered high risk are being sent to the ADH lab, while the others are being sent to a commercial lab. Those sent to the commercial lab are coming back a little quicker due to the state's workload.”

As of the first of the week, the hospital was awaiting the return of the results of 12 of the 89 tests conducted locally.

Early last week, PCH announced that one person had tested positive at the local hospital and indicated at the time they were from Dunklin County—making their way to the facility for testing. On Monday, Magee noted another person had since tested positive and was also from the Missouri Bootheel.

“Most of those tested have been sent home to self-quarantine, but there are some who we have quarantined here in the hospital based on their symptoms,” he added.

Magee also reported the local hospital is not experiencing any of the shortages noted on the national scene, and indicated he was keeping a close eye on the situation.

“We're just not seeing the shortages some hospitals are having,” he offered. “We have no real shortages at this time, but I get a report on the personnel protection items every day and so far we're in good shape.”

In response to the continued spread of the deadly virus, PCH limited visitation last week. On Tuesday Magee announced all visitation was being suspended until further notice, except in extremely unique situations.

“Family members who want to check on their loved ones may call the hospital and ask for a charge nurse,” Magee explained. “They can also talk to Tonny Dement, our clinical director, or they may ask to speak with the person's principal care physician or our medical director, Dr. (JT) DeWitt to get information.”

Magee indicated the decision to suspend all visitation was reached at a meeting on Tuesday morning, slated to be implemented the following day. Those wanting to reach the hospital may call 870 598-3881.

Kennett Curfew

Beginning at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1, the City of Kennett imposed a curfew until further notice in an attempt to fight the spread of the coronavirus. The Kennett City Council approved the move at Tuesday night's meeting, and the curfew will be in effect from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. each night in an effort to restrict movement. A state of emergency was also declared recently, and remains in place until Friday, April 24. On Wednesday it was reported that Dunklin County now has six positive cases of COVID-19, including at least two who were tested positive at Piggott Community Hospital but then returned to Missouri.

Online Assessments

Clay County Assessor Tracy Gurley reports county residents now have the option of assessing online, allowing those needing to do so the opportunity without visiting one of the two courthouses. The option has been added in light of the recent mandates for social distancing, and the closure of the two courthouses due to concerns over the COVID-19 virus.

“It is really easy, all you have to do is go to the website, click the drop-down menu and select “Clay,” Gurley explains. “Then you just follow the prompts.”

The online system allows individuals to assess their taxes, pay their taxes online or obtain tax records and receipts.

“We will download and process assessments throughout the workday, and you will receive an email confirmation when it is completed,” Gurley added. “We hope you find this convenient and helpful. And, please call us if you have any questions.”

The website may be accessed at https://countyservice.net/ and those wanting additional information may call the assessor's office in the Piggott courthouse at 870-598-3870 or the courthouse in Corning at 870-857-3133.

Vehicle Tag Deadline Extended

Clay County Sheriff Terry Miller reports the state is suspending penalties for those unable to purchase, or renew, vehicle tags by the end of the month. Thanks to an executive order, state residents will have until April 16 to do so without penalty. The measure waives the late registration penalty of three dollars for each 10 days a person fails to register a motor vehicle. Although, it was also noted that the order doesn't forgive any taxes or fees, just suspends late penalties for the period. State officials also reminded residents that motor vehicle registration may be conducted online by visiting www.mydmv.arkansas.gov or by calling 1-800-941-2580.

Extension Offices Closed to Public

Due to ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, both Clay County Extension offices have been closed to the public until further notice. But, despite the closures the offices will continue to handle business, but ask those needing their services to contact them by telephone or email.

“If you have soil, litter, feed or plant samples that you would like to have tested, we have placed a drop-off box outside of our front doors at both the Piggott and Corning offices,” a spokesperson offered. “Please use plastic bags for your soil samples, and paper bags for your plant samples.”

Those wanting such testing should also be sure to write their name, phone number and identification of the sample on the bag.

“Also, please wrap them in a plastic bag so they don't get wet,” the spokesperson added.

Those wanting additional information may call the extension office in Piggott at 870 598-2246 or the office in Corning at 870 857-6875. Additional information, and email addresses for staff, may also be found on their website at www.uaex.edu/counties/clay/

Shelton Ends Large Item Pickup

Recently, Shelton Sanitation announced they would not be doing large item pickups until further notice. The company offered this in a news release.

“To help keep our employees healthy and minimize the risk of contact with COVID-19, we have decided to cancel all large item pickups at this time. Large items must be handled manually and we feel that avoiding contact with these items at this time will greatly reduce our employees’ risk of exposure. We would like to remind everyone at this time that all garbage is supposed to be bagged prior to being placed in the containers and out for pick up. We would also appreciate you wiping down the handle and lids of your containers periodically as these are the two main touch points on a container for our drivers. We are doing everything that we can to ensure the health of our employees which also ensures that regular trash pickup will continue without interruption. We appreciate your understanding of the importance of protecting our employees from this unprecedented virus, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Hopefully everything will return to normal in a few months. Please visit the notice board on our website at www.sheltonsanitationinc.com for any future announcements. You may also ‘Like’ us on Facebook to receive future announcements as they are posted. Please share this information with your friends & family. Thank you and stay healthy!”

Otherwise, everyone is encouraged to practice social distancing and observe good hygiene practices until the virus threat diminishes. As of Thursday morning, a total of 625 cases had been confirmed in Arkansas, including 10 deaths, but there were still none in Clay County.

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