Black Lives Matter
If you haven’t already, please see our statement on Black Lives Matter.
Use of police force 6th leading cause of death of young Black men
A 2019 study by the University of Michigan, Rutgers University, and Washington University is receiving renewed attention following the killing of George Floyd. It found that 1 in 1,000 Black men and boys in the United States will be killed by police, making it the 6th leading cause of death for young Black men. Black men are about 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than White men. “The study uses data from a database called Fatal Encounters, a journalist-led effort to document deaths involving police. Deaths are gathered and categorized using news reports and public records.” Read more.
Racial equity conversation
Last week, Arkansas Kids Count Coalition and Citizens First Congress co-hosted a conversation on racial disparities around COVID-19, structural racism, and how to be a good ally. You can listen to the recording here.
Policy and administrative changes continue to move quickly at the state and federal level in response to COVID-19. Arkansas Advocates for Children Families will work to keep you updated on policy news at the end of each week. More pandemic-related blogs and publications are available here.
COVID-19 cases continue to climb
Dr. Nate Smith restated this week that no data supports that lifting restrictions has led to the recent significant increase in positive COVID-19 cases. On Wednesday, he reported that most recent data showed less than 1 percent of cases seem to be due to the reopening. He said the highest risk setting to catch the virus is households; followed by community events, like birthday parties or church services; and workplaces. But he said workplaces are the easiest settings to implement protective measures. When asked about continuing to open the economy as cases increase, Governor Hutchinson said we have to manage our way through the crisis and continue normal life while being safe. He said the virus will still be a threat in fall, and we cannot shelter in place for that long or be restricted forever. Arkansas currently has 2,335 active cases. On Friday, Dr. Smith said the state’s contact tracing team is managing given the increased numbers of cases, but they are stretched. He said they are hoping to double their capacity for contact tracing within a month.
So far this month there have been over 12,000 tests conducted in Arkansas. Throughout June, the state will be testing all patients and staff at long-term care facilities. Rachel Bunch, with Arkansas Health Care Association, which represents the long-term care industry said the state could see a startling increase in part due to asymptomatic cases. The final total for the May testing surge was 80,808 tests, surpassing the state’s original goal of 60,000 tests. For June the state has a goal of 120,000 tests.
Including ITIN filers in stimulus payments helps families and state finances
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act included “economic impact payments” to support families and help boost the economy as we struggle with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the regulations around the CARES Act payments left out an estimated 15 million taxpayers, because they do not have or need a social security number. A new blog from Arkansas Advocates looks at how this has impacted Arkansans and our state’s economy as congress considers it’s next round of COVID-19 legislation.
Workers compensation for poultry plant workers
On Monday, the Governor was asked if people who contract the virus at their workplace, such as poultry plants, should qualify for unemployment benefits. The Governor said he believed that if there is a causal relationship between the person’s employment and contracting the virus, they should be covered by workers compensation. But he said there were some legal questions around the compensation and that a causal relationship could be hard to prove.
No time to play
The Arkansas Early Childhood Association (AECA) wrote an op-ed for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on how the pandemic and resulting economic crisis is forcing the closure of early childhood centers across the state and straining those that remain open. AECA Executive Director Jeff Dyer argues that, without significant support, many early childhood centers could be forced to close.
COVID-19 Latinx Stakeholder Group
Last month, the state established the COVID-19 Latinx Stakeholder Group to advise on effective outreach and communications strategies for Latinx Arkansans. The primary goal of the group is to communicate the significance and causes of COVID-19 infections. They are creating videos and written materials in Spanish on testing and protective measures. The group is made up of 28 public health, faith, government, city, business, community, and media leaders.
State revenue in May
In May, the state took in $80 million in tax revenue over the revised forecast, $270 million over the revised forecast for the year. In May the state’s revenue was down 3.4 percent from May of 2019.
As the economic fallout from the pandemic continues, unemployment numbers continue to rise, though the weekly total of new unemployment insurance filings has been declining. Last week, an additional 1.87 million people applied for unemployment benefits. Over 10.7 million people have applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for gig and self-employed workers. The national unemployment rate in May was 13.3 percent, with nearly 20.1 million people unemployed.
Arkansas currently has a 55.3 percent self-response rate for the census, compared to the national average of 60.6 percent. The deadline to complete the census has been extended to October 31 from July 31. If you would like to share information about the census, Arkansas Advocates has created a resource page.
Arkansas United COVID-19 Page in Spanish: Para información sobre COVID-19 en Español
Marshallese Education Initiative COVID-19 Page in Marshallese: Ñan melele ko ikijeen COVID-19 ilo kajin Majõl
Marshallese Call-In Line: UAMS Northwest has a dedicated call-in center for people who speak Marshallese and suspect they need a COVID-19 test. Calls will be answered from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The number is (479) 713-8708. UAMS has also established an interpretation line for health care providers to use if they need help serving Marshallese patients. It’s available 24 hours a day. For more information about that resource (for health providers only), contact Stacia Dean at SNDean (at) uams.edu or Betsy O’Connor at GEOconnor (at) uams.edu.
Applying for Assistance Programs: Legal Aid of Arkansas created a fact sheet breaking down how to apply for Medicaid, SNAP food assistance, and unemployment benefits. A Spanish version is here. Legal Aid has also created a comprehensive guide, which is available here in Spanish.
Receiving Stimulus Payments: Arkansas Advocates created a fact sheet on how to receive the federal Economic Impact Payment from the CARES Act.
Applying for Health Care Coverage After Losing a Job: People who have lost their workplace health care coverage in the last 60 days due to the pandemic may be eligible for a marketplace qualifying health plan. You can determine your options with the Arkansas Insurance Department at 1-844-355-3262 or www.myarinsurance.com.
Guidance for those with Underlying Health Conditions: The CDC has produced these guidelines for those with underlying health conditions during the COVID-19 crisis.
Arkansas 211: 211 is a free, statewide telephone service that connects individuals in need to important community services in the state of Arkansas like food pantries, health programs, crisis intervention, shelters, and more. Just call “211.”
Applying for Unemployment Insurance: There is a new option to apply for unemployment insurance online or by phone. You can apply here.
Self-Employed Workers Unemployment Assistance: Gig and self-employed workers can now apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance here.
Applying for Medicaid, ARKids First (children’s health insurance), or SNAP (formerly known as food stamps): The Department of Human Services has made changes encouraging the public to avoid in-person visits to DHS county offices and is allowing fewer people in the lobbies at the same time, increasing wait times. People are encouraged to apply online at www.Access.Arkansas.gov or to use the phone application option by calling 1-855-372-1084. County offices will be installing drop-off boxes for paper applications. And required SNAP interviews may be conducted by phone rather than in person.
WIC (nutrition assistance program for Women, Infants and Children): Contact your county Department of Health office for information on how to apply.
Department of Health Updates: You can get the latest COVID-19 updates from the Department of Health here.
Finding a food pantry: Some pantries may be closed, so call ahead to confirm.
Arkansas Foodbank pantry map
Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas food pantry network
Harvest Regional Food Bank (Texarkana)
Food Bank of North Central Arkansas
Northwest Arkansas Food Bank
River Valley Regional Food Bank