The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, quoting a deputy coroner in Faulkner County, says Arkansas has apparently had its first death linked to coronavirus — a 91-year-old Cleburne County man hospitalized at Conway Regional Medical Center.

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That death is not yet recorded on the Arkansas Health Department’s website tracking coronavirus cases and tests. UPDATE: Before the day was over, a second death somewhere in Central Arkansas was announced by the governor.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette identified the first deaths as Bill Barton, 91, a member of the Greers Ferry church where 34 people were stricken, and a 59-year-old Sherwood man who died at a North Little Rock hospital.


But the site notes that the number of confirmed cases continues to inch up in Arkansas, to 232 of more than 1, a 228 whose tests have been completed so far. There appear to be confirmed cases in 37 of the 75 counties. Cleburne County now has 28 confirmed cases, the second highest in the state after 63 in Pulaski County.

Reporting yesterday tied many of the Cleburne cases, plus some in other counties, to people who’d attended an evangelical event March 5-8 at the Greers Ferry First Assembly of God Church. A deacon there told the Democrat-Gazette that 34 people who’d attended the event had tested positive.


The state Department of Health is doing targeted testing of people most at risk, including health care workers and nursing home residents. Seven people have recovered: those three days out after the resolution of their symptoms.

Our number compares to 46,548 cases nationally. New York has more than 25,000 confirmed cases; 200 have died in New York City alone.

Governor Hutchinson and Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith will give an update at 1:30 p.m. It will be live streamed on Facebook and YouTube.