Gov. Hutchinson signs order banning out-of-state travelers from hotels, Arkansas reports 743 COVID-19 cases

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed an Executive Order temporarily banning out-of-state travelers from staying in hotels, motels, or other short-term rentals in Arkansas.

According to Hutchinson, commercial lodging and vacation rental facilities may now only allow essential personnel, such as healthcare professionals, first responders and law enforcement, to stay at the facilities.

Other authorized guests include:

-State or federal employees on official business;
-National Guard members on active duty;
-Airline crew members;
-Patients of hospitals and their families;
-Journalists;
-Persons unable to return to their home due to COVID-19 travel restrictions;
-Arkansas citizens unable to return to their home due to exigent circumstances, such as fire, flood, tornado, or other disaster;
-Persons in need of shelter due to domestic violence or homelessness;
-Employees of hotels, motels, or other service providers/contractors of a hotel or motel;
-Persons away from their home due to work or work-related travel.

Hutchinson says this is part of the state's "targeted response" to the coronavirus pandemic. State leaders hope the restrictions will cut down on unnecessary travel throughout the state.

“I am grateful that Arkansans have taken extraordinary efforts to practice social distancing and flatten the curve," Gov. Hutchinson said. "It is my hope that these new measures will provide further protection for Arkansans as we prepare for the peak number of COVID-19 cases in our state.”

As of Saturday, Arkansas has reported the following Coronavirus updates:

-743 cases of COVID-19, 12 deaths
-72 patients hospitalized, 23 using ventilators.

Hutchinson says 1,000 tests have been done over the last 24 hours. Additionally, unemployment claims are now up to 66,000 in Arkansas with 8,000 in waiting to be processed.

Gov. Hutchinson provides the latest updates on Arkansas's response to the pandemic in the stream below: