Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he’s issued two new executive orders to support healthcare workers during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The first order allows first responders and frontline healthcare workers to file for workers’ compensation if they contract COVID-19 on the job.
“It’s hard to believe, but right now, a contagious disease or virus cannot be used to file a workers’ comp claim unless it’s in a hospital environment or a sanitarium,” said Hutchinson during his daily COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday.
The second order establishes legal liability immunity for healthcare workers who are responding to a COVID-19 emergency. it includes physicians, physicians assistants, specialists assistants, nurse practitioners, licensed registered nurses and licensed practical nurses.
“We don’t want them to worry about being sued while performing their responsibilities in emergency circumstances,” Hutchinson said.
Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arkansas had reached 1,498 by Tuesday, an increase of 88 since Monday. No new counties had reported cases since yesterday.
Smith said 81 patients are currently hospitalized, and 29 patients are on ventilators. The number of recoveries has risen to 444, and two more people have died, bringing the death toll to 32.
Hutchinson said no new cases were reported at the Cummins Unit state prison or at the federal prison in Forrest City. He said on Monday there were 55 positive cases at the Forrest City facility, and that 43 out of 46 inmates in a single barracks at the Cummins Unit had tested positive.
A total of 206 healthcare workers have so far tested positive for COVID-19, including 65 who have recovered.