Coronavirus case in Boone County, Ark., raises more questions than answers

Published: Mar. 24, 2020 at 3:25 PM CDT
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The call from the Arkansas Department of Health of a positive COVID-19 case in Boone County didn't tell Harrison Mayor Jerry Jackson much, which gave him little to share with his community.

"Then the calls started coming in about who's the person and where have they been," Jackson said.

Harrison's mayor said it's frustrating because he doesn't have the answers, like where the person went prior to diagnosis. The state has to protect the person's privacy.

"There's just some basic things that we wish we could know that probably could comfort the community a little better," Jackson said.

Boone County Health Officer Dr. Kevin Jackson said the state health department would most likely notify a person if they were exposed.

"At this point, I've not heard anything from the state health department voicing any concerns that any other measure needs to be implemented at this point," Dr. Jackson said.

We asked the state department why Arkansas wasn't willing to share more information when counties across the border in Missouri sometimes have. A spokeswoman answered, ​"States sometimes have differing HIPAA guidelines based on population and other factors."

The mayor said the only information he can share is it's best to practice social distancing, staying six feet apart. So even if you did come across someone with coronavirus, you won't spread it.

"You can go to Walmart actually, and you can go to Home Depot. You've got to learn to walk backwards, walk sideways, keep yourself away from people," the mayor said.

Dr. Jackson said Boone County now has more tests it can use, adding nearly 200 kits, but the labs still need to be selective about who gets one.

"Now it's because the labs are overrun with the numerous samples that we're able to send in now," Dr. Jackson said.

And the governor has said it could be six to eight weeks before this virus even hits its peak.

"Everybody's just going to have to buckle down. Be as courteous and neighborly as we can be. Care for those in our community that don't have others that can watch out for them, so we have a long ways to go," Dr. Jackson said.

The mayor is encouraging people to order curb-side or takeout from local restaurants to support small businesses.

For more information on confirmed cases in specific Arkansas counties, go to

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