LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — The first deaths in Arkansas linked to the coronavirus were reported Tuesday.
Faulkner County deputy coroner Robert Edwards said a 91-year-old man who was being treated for COVID-19 at Conway Regional Medical Center died around 8 a.m. Edwards said he did not immediately have further information.
Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith reported a second death in a news conference Tuesday afternoon. He said the person who died was in their 50's and did not live in a nursing home, but did not provide further details.
As of Thursday afternoon, 335 people in Arkansas had tested positive for the virus and 1,504 had tested negative. A student at the University of Arkansas is among the new cases. At least 13 people have recovered from the virus.
After the state's first deaths were announced, Smith warned that funerals are among the social gatherings where the virus could spread. He encouraged smaller ceremonies. Smith also said that new evidence shows smokers are at greater risk of contracting the virus.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said at the news conference that on Thursday he plans to hold a special legislative session to address state budget concerns. Economic disruption caused by the virus has left the state with an expected $353 million budget shortfall. Countless businesses have been forced to close or scale down operations to limit the spread of the virus. As many as 10,000 people in Arkansas had filed for unemployment.
More than 75,000 cases of the virus have been reported across the country. More than 1,000 people have died.