Clay County Reports First COVID-19 Death

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Although the state of Arkansas moved into the more-relaxed Phase Two on Monday, cases of the coronavirus continue to be reported to the Arkansas Department of Health, In Clay County the first death from the virus was reported as the number of positive cases more than doubled in the past week. As of Thursday there were 23 confirmed cases, with 17 active, and the one death in Clay County.

The single death in the county is still not being reported by the ADH as of Thursday, but was verified at Monday night's quorum court meeting by Judge Mike Patterson and OEM/911 director Alan Vaughn. They indicated they had been informed of the death, although due to privacy issues no other details could be provided.

On Tuesday, Clay County Coroner Jerrod Lowe confirmed the death. He reported the person did test positive for COVID-19, although they had other underlying health issues, and that they had been a resident of Rector Nursing and Rehab. He also reported that he had tested at least two other county residents who passed away recently, although both those were negative for the virus.

On Wednesday the ADH reported 12 positive tests in the long term care facility, along with five staff members.

ADH also reports an increase statewide, with the number of positive cases climbing to 13,606 with 4,413 still active. So far, the disease associated with the virus has claimed 197 lives in Arkansas while 8,996 have recovered.

On Monday the state moved into Phase Two, which allows restaurants and other businesses to increase to two-third capacity. Monday also marked the reopening of parks, community centers and local offices and businesses. On the other hand, many events are also being called off—including the demolition derby scheduled for Saturday, June 20, at the Clay County Fairgrounds. Organizers also report the Beatles at the Ridge festival in Walnut Ridge, set for this summer, has been called off for 2020.

In response to the increases, the Arkansas Department of Health continues to promote testing and tracing of those who come into contact with the virus. The ADH began offering testing in mid-May at their health units across the state, working in support of other efforts. On the local scene, Piggott Community Hospital continues to operate a COVID-19 test screening facility at their clinic in Rector PCH also continues to screen visitors to the ER and specialty clinics, and have limited visitors to the hospital as well.

Health officials noted testing is encouraged for all individuals who believe they have had contact with, or been exposed to, a positive case as well as anyone who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath. Tests will also be offered to anyone with or without symptoms who lives in or has traveled to an area experiencing active transmission.

Those seeking a test should confirm that the health unit is open and call ahead for an appointment so that staff can prepare and ensure safe spacing between patients. A list of health units is available at and the phone number for the Clay County Health Unit in Piggott is 870 598-3390.

Results are typically made available within 48 to 72 hours, though it can take up to a week. Positive patients will be notified as soon as a result is available. The ADH noted there is no out-of-pocket cost for the tests, but insurance may be billed for patients who are covered.

As of Tuesday morning, there were 206 Arkansas residents hospitalized due to COVID-19, with 45 of those on a ventilator. Additional information may be found on the Arkansas Department of Health website at

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