Coronavirus / COVID-19 Resources

If any pharmacy becomes a private, community-based COVID-19 testing site, please contact John Vinson ([email protected]) as soon as possible.


Quick Info
Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas (4/3/20) - 704 cases
Confirmed COVID-19 related deaths in Arkansas (4/3/20) - 12 deaths


Arkansas Insurance Department COVID-19 Bulletins
Guidance on Chloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin
Arkansas Coalition for Preparedness - PPE Contact List  - This document has names, emails, and phone numbers of people in your region to contact for help getting pandemic items to your pharmacy. 

ADH Interactive Map of COVID Cases in Arkansas
Arkansas Pharmacists Association Social Media & Publication Toolkit - APA is supplying this toolkit for pharmacies to communicate with their patients about COVID-19 and how patient access to pharmacists is temporarily being altered. Click the link to go to the online Toolkit, then click the ellipsis [...] and "Download" to download the Toolkit and get started.
DEA Guidance on Early Refills of Controlled Substances
APA and State Board COVID-19 Guidance for Pharmacies and Pharmacists
UAMS Online COVID Screening
Arkansas Department of Health Call Center: 1-800-803-7847 during business hours, 501-661-2136 after hours
Arkansas Children's Hospital:1-800-743-3616, 24 hours a day

Arkansas State Board Recommendations Concerning Potential Compounding Personal Protective Equipment Shortages
Arkansas Department of Health Guidance for Pharmacies
April 3, 2020
April 2, 2020
  • Pharmacist Group Issues Letter to OSHA About PPE - The American Pharmacists Association issued a letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requesting guidance and clarification on the level of protection pharmacists and pharmacy staff should have while working in pharmacies on the front-line of patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter reports concerns from pharmacists across the country who are serving their communities without proper PPE due to supply chain diversions and prioritization for hospitals. Click here to read the letter.
  • Governor Asa Hutchinson April 2nd Press Conference
    • 643 total positive cases in Arkansas
      • 20 children
      • 440 aged 18-64
      • 183 aged 65+
    • Two new deaths, bringing total to 12. Eight deaths are aged 65+, four are aged 19-64
    • Hospitalized: 66
    • On ventilators: 23
    • Governor Hutchinson reviewed the current restrictions in the state regarding public behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic and said most of the states that have issued shelter in place orders aren't very different from what Arkansas has already done. He also said that Arkansas is seeing cases under what was originally projected, but that the situation will continue to be monitored.
    • Arkansas State Representative Vivian Flowers has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Yesterday, it was reported that Arkansas State Representative Reginald Murdock was diagnosed with COVID-19.  
April 1, 2020
  • FFCRA Update - Pharmacies Exempt from Paid Sick Leave Law - The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act), passed by Congress last week, requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31, 2020. The US Department of Labor issued official guidance last night saying pharmacies and their employees are now exempt from this federal law. A pharmacy may choose time to provide paid sick leave to their employees should finances allow but they are not REQUIRED by federal law to comply with this law. Visit www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions to read more questions and answers about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
  • Arkansas Pharmacy Foundation Compounding Hand Sanitizer for Homeless Shelters - The Arkansas Pharmacy Foundation teamed up with local pharmacists and student pharmacists to combat the spread of COVID-19 among one of the state's most vulnerable populations. Volunteers from the Arkansas pharmacy community spent several days compounding 110 gallons of USP-grade pharmaceutical quality hand sanitizer into approximately 1,800 8-oz bottles to be distributed primarily to homeless shelters throughout the state. Thank you to the organizers and volunteers who made this possible!
  • How to Prescribe Controlled Substances to Patients During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
  • COVID-19 DHS Response: SNAP Policies
  • KATV - Some Arkansas pharmacies switching to drive-thru and curbside pickup only, free delivery
  • Governor Asa Hutchinson April 1st Press Conference
    • 584 total positive cases in Arkansas
      • 18 children
      • 396 aged 18-64
      • 170 aged 65+
    • Two new deaths, bringing total to 10. Both deaths were in people over the age of 65.
    • Hospitalized: 56
    • On ventilators: 25
    • Recovered: 42
    • Nursing home residents and staff: 51
    • Healthcare workers: 84
    • Underlying conditions
    • Diabetes: 50
    • Heart disease: 40
    • Lung disease: 26
    • Kidney disease: 1
    • Immunocompromised conditions: 18
    • Testing has been scaled up in the state. In the last 24 hours 903 tests have been processed: UAMS has processed 65 tests, ADH has processed 147 tests, and commercial labs have processed 691 tests.
    • Walmart, the state of Arkansas, and Quest Labs have collaborated to establish a new drive-thru testing site in Northwest Arkansas focusing on testing healthcare workers.
    • All state parks will be restricted to day trips only; no overnight stays.
    • Buffalo River Scenic National Park will be closed through the end of the COVID-19 emergency in order to limit out of state travel to Arkansas. Yesterday, 60% of the visitors to the park were from out of state.
    • Arkansas State Representative Reginald Murdock has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Last week, Rep. Murdock attended a legislative meeting to pass the COVID-19 emergency relief bill. The legislature met at the Jack Stephens Center instead of the State Capitol to allow for social distancing.

March 31, 2020
  • State Board of Pharmacy Emergency Rules Suspension
  • FDA Approves Anti-Malarial Drugs Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine for Emergency Coronavirus Treatment
  • Governor Asa Hutchinson March 31st Press Conference
    • 523 total positive cases in Arkansas
      • 17 children
      • 348 aged 18-64
      • 158 aged 65+
    • One new death, bringing total to eight. The new death was a person over the age of 65.
    • Hospitalized: 64
    • On ventilators: 23
    • Recovered: 35
    • Nursing home residents and staff: 47
    • Healthcare workers: 79
    • Underlying conditions
    • Diabetes: 44
    • Heart disease: 39
    • Lung disease: 23
    • Kidney disease: 12
    • Immunocompromised conditions: 16
    • Governor Hutchinson announced that based on projections, Arkansas could have 3,500 cases by April 10. However, he also pointed out that actual cases are currently below the projection line, so the recommended precautions could be noticeably working.
    • The Department of Health lab is moving to 24/7 testing as long as supplies hold up.
    • The New York Times article reporting that Arkansas is one of the worst states when it comes to testing was using out of date data. The article said Arkansas has only processed 1,000 tests, but the correct number is more than 5,000.
    • Dr. Nate Smith clarified when someone could return to work if they are required to report.
      • If you have tested positive, you can return at least seven days after the onset of illness and at least three days without a fever.
      • If you have been exposed but show no symptoms, you must wait 14 days after exposure.

March 30, 2020
  • Governor Asa Hutchinson March 30th Press Conference
    • 473 total positive cases in Arkansas
      • 17 children
      • 307 aged 18-64
      • 149 aged 65+
    • One new death, bringing the total to seven. The new death was a person over the age of 65 and was nursing home related.
    • Hospitalized: 62
    • On ventilators: 21
    • Recovered: 29
    • Nursing home residents and staff: 47. One new nursing home is affected - Green Acres in Paragould.
    • Underlying conditions
      • Pregnant: 6
      • Diabetes: 37
      • Heart disease: 36
      • Lung disease: 22
      • Kidney disease: 10
      • Immunocompromised conditions: 12
    • Healthcare workers: 73
    • The governor has already allocated $30 million for PPE and that has helped with moving Arkansas forward on the supply chain. Today, he approved an additional $45 million in additional funds.
    • CARES Act
      • States will receive federal funds for COVID as part of the CARES Act passed by Congress last week.
      • Governor Hutchinson issued an executive order today to establish a 15-member steering committee to make recommendations on use of the federal money. Nine members will come from the governor's staff and six members from the state legislature.
      • Funds will be available in the next 30 days and must be spent between March 1 and December 30.
      • The state expects to receive $1.25 billion to be spend on hospital beds, ventilators, respirators, and other equipment.
  • NCPA: Here's What You Need to Know About the CARES Act
March 26, 2020
  • Governor Asa Hutchinson March 26th Press Conference
    • 3 deaths in Central Arkansas, one person in 50s, one over the age of 80, and one unknown
    • 349 total positive cases in Arkansas
      • Hospitalized: 41
      • On ventilators: 13
      • Recovered: 19
      • Nursing homes residents and staff: 42
    • Governor Hutchinson announced the Continuity of Care Initiative: Proposal to Help Keep Patients, Healthcare Workers, and the Public Safe and Keep Critical Providers Open for Business
    • DHS is submitting a Medicaid Section 1115 Demonstration Project (waiver) to CMS to approve a series of proposals aimed at ensuring continuity of care for Arkansans during this emergency.
    • This proposal would leverage about $100 million in additional funds to make strategic investments in facilities, operations, and staffing to build both the short- and long-term capacity. 
      • Off-setting Costs of Environmental Modifications - DHS would provide a fixed, time-limited payment for modifications such as establishing drive-through screening and testing and reconfiguring patient intake areas to maintain social distancing. These payments would be for Critical Access Hospitals, hospitals participating in the Small Hospital Improvement Program, hospitals with 65 beds or less, and qualifying independent physician clinics. 

      • Workforce Support and Training - DHS would provide a fixed rate, time-limited payment to providers for enhanced workforce support, safety, and training to cover things such as extended hours, additional days, or providing mobile, satellite, or drive-through services. 

      • Supporting LTSS Direct Care Workers - These workers provide essential care for thousands of Arkansans. To help residential long-term care facilities and providers of in-home care for the elderly and people with disabilities retain its critical workforce during a time of significant concern, DHS would provide a $250 weekly continuity of care payment to direct care workers working full-time in private and public facilities and delivering in-home services for LTSS providers. Direct care workers working full-time in a setting with COVID-19 patients would each get a $500 weekly bonus. Workers who are employed part-time will receive a partial payment. (Type of providers supported include skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, residential care facilities, and intermediate care facilities.) 

      • Supporting In-home Caregivers of Children in Foster Care - To help prevent negative impacts to the physical and mental health of a Medicaid-eligible child in foster care, DHS would provide an additional monthly payment of $500 to all foster families (licensed foster parents, relative caregivers, and fictive kin) during the emergency period. March 26, 2020 

      • Supporting Nursing Facilities Managing Clusters of COVID-19 - For nursing facilities that have a “cluster” of COVID-19 patients, DHS would make a one-time payment to help meet the excess costs for additional equipment, supplies, and staffing. 

      • Facilitating Telemedicine - To ensure providers can offer services online, which is safer during a pandemic, DHS would provide enhanced payments to help cover the cost of technology upgrades and training for providers, especially smaller ones, not equipped to provide telemedicine. 

      • Covering Home Delivery Services - To help Medicaid beneficiaries get critical goods and services, Medicaid would pay non-emergency medical transportation providers and other providers to expand capacity to deliver prescriptions, meals, and essentials. 

      • Partnering with Local Government to Shelter the Homeless – If approved, DHS will partner with local units of government to provide temporary housing for the vulnerable homeless population. 

      • Covering COVID-19 Testing and Screening – For individuals who are uninsured, DHS would provide an all-inclusive payment for screening and testing for COVID-19. 

      • In addition to the Section 1115 Demonstration Project, DHS will also submit a Section 1135 waiver to CMS to reduce regulatory red tape so providers can deliver services more efficiently. DHS is requesting federal approval for a number of measures that would reduce the regulatory burden for providers during this public health emergency. In general, those measures include flexibility related to documentation requirements and postponing certain provider enrollment requirements. They also include permitting rural hospitals to expand their capacity. 

      • DHS is also making internal system changes as well to ensure continued eligibility for Medicaid and timely access to necessary services, such as for prescription drugs. 

  • COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness Plan for EBD, ASU, and State Police Prescription Programs - The Employee Benefits Division (State Employees / Public School Employees), Arkansas State University, and Arkansas State Police prescription drug programs have approved an Emergency Preparedness Plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  This plan currently involves three components:
    • Allowance of Early Refills – this feature allows community pharmacists to enter an override code at the point of service for early refills needed for patients affected by COVID-19.  The attached MedImpact Pharmacy Communications guide provides more detail regarding how this works. It is our understanding that the Early Refill Override function will be in place by tomorrow, Friday, March 27th.
    • Extension of Prior Authorizations that are due to expire between now and April 30, 2020 – An additional 90 days have been added to the termination date on these prior authorizations.  The intention of this feature is to alleviate the administrative burden on doctor’s offices as extra screening and other procedures are currently in place.  Additionally, this should benefit patients and pharmacies in reducing unnecessary disruption during this time.  These adjustments should be loaded into the MedImpact system within the next day or so and we will be notified when this occurs.  NOTE:  This feature does not pertain to new prescriptions requiring prior authorization.
    • Signature Log Waiver – MedImpact is temporarily waiving the prescription pick-up signature log requirements for pharmacies.  This feature is part of the contractual arrangement between MedImpact and its community pharmacy network and is currently in place.  MedImpact’s Signature Log Waiver announcement is attached and it is my understanding this has previously been distributed to contracted pharmacies. 
    • Although this plan is in effect through the end of April, assessments and possible adjustments will be made along the way.
  • Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy Emergency Rule Suspensions for COVId-19 - 

    The linked rules/statutes were approved for emergency suspensions as part of the governor's emergency declaration. The changes include:

    • relaxations for credentialing for disease state management
    • expanded therapeutic substitution ability for albuterol inhalers and a framework for other drugs that become unavailable
    • credentialing relaxations for consultant pharmacists
    • intern ratio rule relaxation
    • credentialing relaxation for administering medications including immunizations
    • and a process to approve remote off site work including prescription review and order entry by pharmacists.
    APA collaborated with the State Board to present these changes for the governor's approval to remove red tape and allow prescribers and pharmacists to better take care of their patients. Ongoing conversations about state regulations will continue.
March 24, 2020
  • Governor Hutchinson March 24th Press Conference
    • 2 deaths in Central Arkansas, one person in 50s, one over the age of 80
    • 218 total positive cases in Arkansas
      • Children: 11
      • Adults 19-64: 134
      • Adults 65+: 73
      • Hospitalized: 14
      • On ventilators: 6
      • Nursing homes residents and staff: 38
    • PPE
      • The state has received its second allocation from strategic stockpile - 24 pallets representing 27,800 N95 masks
      • Arkansas has placed an order for one million units scheduled to begin arriving this weekend
      • These two acquisitions combined should cover the state's needs for the next 60 days at the current usage rate, but as cases continue to increase, the consumption rate will also rise.
    • Dr. Nate Smith noted that smoking is a significant risk factor that could worsen a COVID infection. He also clarified that the state recommends employers screen employees every day for COVID-19. There had been reports that some employers were not allowing employees to come to work unless they had been tested. 
    • A special session the governor mentioned previously this week will begin Thursday, but he will not issue a proclamation without the support of the legislature.
March 23, 2020
  • Governor Hutchinson March 23rd Press Conference
    • 174 total positive cases in Arkansas
    • Currently:
      • Children: 10
      • Adults 65+: 63
      • Adults 19-64: 101
      • Hospitalized: 9
      • On ventilators: 6
      • Nursing Homes: 38
    • Hospitalized at some point: 22
    • In ICU at some point: 14
    • Five individuals have met the state's requirements to be considered "recovered." The state follows the CDC criteria - seven days since onset of symptoms or three days since resolution of symptoms, whichever is longer
    • PPE - Many healthcare settings in the state are critically low. In the past days, the state would find a PPE supplier, sign the contracts, and then have the PPE diverted to other states at the last minute. Currently, the state has an order in for two million additional PPE units from an international supplier that could be prepared to ship this week. However, the state has no control over if those units will also be diverted.
    • The Arkansas state income tax filing deadline for individuals has been postponed to July 15, but for corporate tax filers and estimated payments original deadlines will remain. Due to the delay in individual filing and the loss of income from taxes of businesses that have closed, the state government is facing a $353 million shortfall. As a result, Governor Hutchinson is calling a special legislative session to determine how the state will balance the budget before the end of the state's fiscal year on June 30.
  • President Trump Press Conference
    • FEMA has distributed 8 million N95 masks and 13.3 million surgical masks to states hardest hit 
    • The federal government has postponed requirements for the REAL ID identification system.
    • The Department of Justice is taking steps to address hoarding of critical health supplies and to prevent price gouging.
    • Guidance has been given to private labs to prioritize the tests of hospitalized patients.
    • The FDA announced self-swab tests will be available beginning this week.
    • Dr. Deborah Birx said based on the data they have been seeing from around the world, there have been no deaths in Europe of a person under 15 and there has been only one reported death in China of someone in that age group.
    • The worldwide mortality rate for people under 50 is about 1%.
  • Guidance on Chloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin
    • ADH Information on Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine (3/21/20)
    • Warning on Hyrdoxychlroquine and Azithromycin or Chloroquine Prescribing
      from Dr. Nate Smith, Cabinet Secretary of ADH during Gov. Hutchinson's 3/23/20 Press Conference
    • ADH Hydroxychloroquine Hotline for Prescribers with Questions (HCP questions ONLY) - 1-844-930-3023
    • If a pharmacist is receiving prescriptions that may not be appropriate for hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and chloroquine, you may consider asking for documented diagnosis and referral of the prescriber to the ADH COVID-19 hotline for consultation on the appropriateness of using these medications.
    • Stories are emerging out of Phoenix and Lagos, Nigeria of people harmed by using chloroquine
  • ADH Interactive Map of COVID Cases in Arkansas
  • Arkansas Pharmacists Association Social Media & Publication Toolkit - APA is supplying this toolkit for pharmacies to communicate with their patients about COVID-19 and how patient access to pharmacists is temporarily being altered. Click the link to go to the online Toolkit, then click the ellipsis [...] and "Download" to download the Toolkit and get started.

March 22, 2020
  • Governor Hutchinson March 22 Press Conference
    • Governor Hutchinson announced 165 total positive cases in Arkansas, the largest daily increase but also the largest increase in tests completed
    • Arkansas requested PPE from the federal stockpile and received 25% of the request. 
    • According to the governor: Arkansas is looking at international options for PPE, looking to make our own in state, looking to work with FEMA to get more from emergency stockpile, but Arkansas is competing with not only NY, CA, and other states, but also England, Germany, and every country affected by the pandemic. 
    • The governor estimated that between 8,000-10,000 Arkansans have applied for unemployment claims. He is seeking to release $1.1 million from the Governor's Rainy Day Fund to upgrade the IT for unemployment claims
    • Since the announcement of the first COVID case in the state, 19 people have been hospitalized at one point or another for COVID, 12 people have been admitted to ICU, and six people have been put on ventilators.
    • 44 nursing home residents and workers have tested positive for COVID at the three nursing homes announced on March 20.
    • The first week of testing, the state could test 5-10 people. Yesterday, the state tested 139.
    • UAMS will start testing tomorrow, beginning with in-patients and healthcare workers who may have been exposed.
    • The Arkansas Economic Development Commission has compiled a webpage with resources about small business loans and grants. 
March 20, 2020
    • Governor Hutchinson updated the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas to 96, up from 62 yesterday and the greatest single day jump so far. New cases are now in Benton and Greene Counties.
    • COVID-19 has been found in three nursing homes across the state: Apple Creek Nursing and Rehab in Centerton, The Villages of General Baptist West in Pine Bluff, and Briarwood Nursing Home and Rehab in Little Rock. One patient has tested positive for COVID-19 at both Apple Creek Nursing and Rehab and The Villages of General Baptist West. Thirteen positive cases, including patients and staff, have been reported at Briarwood Nursing Home and Rehab in Little Rock.
    • In accordance with President Trump's announcement this morning, all standardized testing for K-12 has been canceled.
    • The Small Business Administration has approved of Arkansas's declaration as a small business disaster area.
    • The Department of Finance and Administration has advanced $30 million "to help procure, in a greater quantity at lower costs, advanced materials we need for the future" such as PPE.
    • Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined the governor to announce:
      • the AG's office has received 185 complaints of price gouging in Arkansas
      • $3 million has been released to help small businesses get bridge loans
      • Thousands of scam websites related to COVID-19 are popping up to try to get your personal information
      • There is at least one report of a person falsely posing as a representative of the CDC offering door-to-door COVID testing
  • President Trump March 20 Press Conference
    • President Trump announced the April 15 tax deadline will be extended to July 15 with no interest or penalties until the later date
    • The Department of Education won't enforce standardized testing for K-12
    • The government will waive interest on all federal student loans and borrowers can delay loan payments for 60 days.
    • All non-essential travel across the northern and southern borders is halted until further notice. This will not affect trade. 
  • In Italy, up to 20% of front line healthcare workers have been infected with COVID-19.
  • Facing medical supply shortages, Trump invokes wartime law that could give government authority over private manufacturing
March 19, 2020
  • Governor Hutchinson March 19 Press Conference
    • Governor Hutchinson reported the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas is now at 62, up from 33 yesterday. Confirmed cases have been documented in Pulaski, Jefferson, Cleburne, Sevier, Clark, Garland, Saline, Grant, Cleveland, Bradley, Lincoln, Desha, Washington, Pope, Searcy, Van Buren, Faulkner, Independence, Craighead, and Poinsett Counties.
    • 4200 people have been screened through the UAMS COVID-19 Screening, half of those were yesterday
    • K-12 schools will continue to be closed to onsite instruction until April 17th, when that decision will be reevaluated.
    • State government employees will switch to telecommuting except for employees that are required to be on-site to perform their job.
    • Hospitals, clinics, and mental health facilities are mandated to screen staff with temperatures and symptom screenings
    • Effective Friday, March 20, all restaurants and bars in the state are restricted to pickup or delivery only until further notice.
    • All indoor venues including gyms are closed to visitors and non-essential employees.
    • The governor also encouraged businesses to switch to telecommuting if possible, asked all Arkansans to avoid visiting nursing homes, and recommended churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship to limit, cancel, or look for other ways to hold services.

March 18, 2020
  • Governor Hutchinson March 18 Press Conference
    • Governor Hutchinson reported more new cases today, bringing the total confirmed cases to 33 with new cases in Washington, Bradley, and Faulkner Counties (33 positive test results, 236 negative test results)
    • As of yesterday, state can now test 60 people per day; that number will increase as time goes on
    • Economic Relief
      • $12 million in community development block grant funds for businesses affected by pandemic; priority will be to hospitals and essential services
      • $4 million bridge loan program for businesses to make payroll and pay bills; loans will be in amounts up to $250,000
      • 803 child care providers have closed so the state will be providing incentives for childcare centers that remain open
      • SNAP Benefits - work requirements are temporarily suspended 
      • Visit www.sba.gov/coronavirus (1-501-324-7279) or visit www.arkansasedc.com/covid19 (1-501-682-1121) for more information
      • Governor Hutchinson signed an executive order yesterday that gives executive agencies the authority to temporarily suspend 'any regulatory statute, agency, or rule that in any way prevents, hinders, or delays the agency's ability to render maximum assistance to the citizens of this state while they are adhering to guidelines to prohibit the spread of disease..."
  • President Trump March 18 Press Conference
    • The United States / Canada border is closed except for essential travel and trade
    • President Trump has enacted the Defense Production Act to help make up for potential medical supply shortages
    • Two hospital ships have been deployed to assist with the coronavirus pandemic
  • Ibuprofen & COVID: Scientists and doctors in the UK are backing claims by France's health minister who said people showing symptoms of COVID-19 should not use ibuprofen because it could prolong the condition. While still theoretical, the US COVID Task Force was asked about this story during today's press briefing and said they are familiar with the report and are investigating its veracity.
  • USP UpdateIn light of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for garbing and personal protective equipment (PPE) and alcohol-based hand sanitizer is expected to outpace available supply. During this pandemic, USP supports State Boards and other regulators using risk-based enforcement discretion related to the implementation of USP compounding standards and the compounding of alcohol-based hand sanitizers for consumer use.
  • SCOTUS Rally: Due to the U.S. Supreme Court's postponement of its March sitting and no announcement of its April sitting, which would include Rutledge v PCMA, APA and its national partners (NCPA, APhA, and NASPA) have decided to postpone the Pharmacist Rally planned for the same day as the PBM case. More information will be shared as it becomes available.
  • COVID-19 Employee Screening Tools: A local pharmacy provided APA with handouts they are using to screen employees for COVID-19

March 17, 2020

  • Governor Asa Hutchinson March 17 Press Conference
    • 0 new cases today. The governor did warn that because testing is limited, today's announcement should not defer people from following all the recommended precautions
    • Food and fuel supply will continue; avoid panic buying
    • Unemployment Benefits: The governor has authorized several changes to unemployment benefits for the next 30 days including:
      • 1 week eligibility delay has been delayed so that people are eligible immediately
      • Work reporting requirements have been waived 
      • In person application is waived; people can apply online or over the phone (1-855-225-4440)
    • The governor has shut down the three casinos in the state for two weeks

March 16, 2020

  • President Trump March 16 Press Conference
    • White House advises all Americans to avoid groups of more than 10 people and urged older people to stay at home altogether
    • Also advises Americans to avoid entering bars, restaurants, and food courts and instead use drive-thru, pickup or delivery if you must.
    • Avoid discretionary travel if possible
    • Do not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless providing critical assistance
    • These guidelines are in effect for 15 days
  • CDC Clinical Guidance for Management of Patients with Confirmed COVID-19
    • No specific treatment for COVID-19 is currently available
    • Corticosteroids should be avoided, because of the potential for prolonging viral replication
    • Patients with a mild clinical presentation may not initially require hospitalization. However, clinical signs and symptoms may worsen with progression to lower respiratory tract disease in the second week of illness.
  • Governor Hutchinson March 16 Press Conference
  • LR Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. announced a citywide curfew to limit the spread of coronavirus. Residents are not to be outside from 12am - 5am beginning Wednesday. The curfew does not apply to people going to and from work. Additionally, all city facilities are closed to the public. 
  • CDC recommends events and mass gatherings consisting of 50 people or more be canceled for the next eight weeks
  • New York Times is reporting on exposure estimates based on profession. Pharmacists are in the top 25% highest risk.
  • National pharmacy leaders are meeting with the federal COVID team to give input on how pharmacists can help
  • Secretary of Health & Human Services Alex Azar hosted a call for testing stakeholders regarding the efforts to support community-based testing. State public health departments will develop their own testing priorities, but the federal government is urging that health care workers, first responders, and seniors with respiratory symptoms and fever be tested first. Community-based testing will ramp up this week in geographic areas with the greatest need. The testing will be conducted by professionally trained individuals in Tivek suits and PAPRs which are able to used for longer periods, as the N95 masks can only be used for one patient.
  • The United States Supreme Court has postponed arguments for the March sitting: March 23-25, and March 30-April 1. The Court has not yet clarified when it will make up these arguments and has not yet made any announcement about the April sitting, which would include Rutledge v PCMA.
  • Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced a free webcast training on price gouging and consumer protection on Thursday, March 19. Click here to sign up for the free webcase.
  • NCPA has canceled the April 21-22 Congressional Pharmacy Fly-In. Attendees have the option to hold their registration for a future rescheduled date or get a refund by contacting Eva Jones at [email protected] by April 3.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has created a toolkit to share recommendations for businesses and workers across the country. The toolkit has shareable graphics based on the CDC's latest guidance for businesses and employees to share on social media, websites, and other channels. Click here to access the toolkit.

March 15, 2020
  • Governor Hutchinson March 15 Press Conference
    • Governor Hutchinson reports four new cases in Arkansas, bringing total to 16, with more than 100 negative tests
    • CDC confirmed the first 12 of Arkansas's presumptive COVID cases are indeed positive and that the virus will inevitably spread within the state
    • progress on testing means state could increase daily testing ability to 440 cases per day by end of next week
    • school attendance will be optional on Monday but starting Tuesday schools statewide will be closed to classroom instruction and will reopen following Spring Break
    • governor reassures Arkansans that supermarkets will remain open and citizens shouldn't "panic buy"
    • Attorney General Leslie Rutledge reminds businesses, including pharmacies, that price gouging (increasing a product's price by more than 10%) in Arkansas is illegal during a state of emergency and is punishable by a fine of $10,000 per violation and a criminal charge. The price gouging rule went into effect when the governor declared a public health emergency on March 12. However, according to the AG "while the law sets a general 10 percent cap on price increases during an emergency, businesses may lawfully charge a higher price if they can establish that the higher price is directly attributable to additional costs incurred by the retailer from its supplier or as the result of additional costs for labor or materials used to provide the goods or service. In such a limited situation, the business may charge no more than 10 percent above the total of the cost to the business, plus the markup which would customarily be applied by the business for that good or service in the normal course of business. The law applies to both retail and wholesale prices. Manufacturers and distributors cannot engage in price gouging to hospitals and medical providers or to retail businesses." Click here to read the AG's full statement about price gouging.
  • Little Rock mayor Frank Scott, Jr. has created a COVID-19 Task Force that met this morning, including former APA CEO Dr. Scott Pace 
  • CDC confirms the first 12 of Arkansas's presumptive COVID cases are indeed positive and that the virus will inevitably spread within the state
  • New York Times U.S. Map of Every Documented Coronavirus Case in America
  • Washington Post - Outbreak Simulator and How Social Distancing Measures Can Slow an Outbreak
  • Federal authorities have banned most nursing home visitors as coronavirus fight escalates
  • Former US Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is in Italy and shares his experience living in a country where everything has shut down except pharmacies and supermarkets and how this could be a look into what's to come for the United States.


March 14, 2020
  • Three more presumptive cases reported in Arkansas, bringing total to twelve. Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Nate Smith and Arkansas Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe joined Governor Asa Hutchinson at today's press conference and warned that the coronavirus is proving to be highly contagious and that hospitals should prepare for triage of COVID cases in areas away from day to day operations. Governor Hutchinson praised healthcare workers in Arkansas, calling them courageous for being on the front lines of the fight against the COVID pandemic.
  • UAMS College of Pharmacy is taking steps to enable pharmacy students currently on rotation to complete the rotation using individualized APPE plans for each student
  • U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams is suggesting hospitals consider canceling elective surgeries to allow them to focus on patients with coronavirus. The bold statement is causing some healthcare personnel to question how hospitals will be able to comply when those elective procedures provide the slim financial margin hospitals operate on due to underpayments, delays, and cuts from CMS and Arkansas Medicaid.

March 13, 2020

  • President Trump has declared a national emergency over the coronavirus pandemic, freeing up $50 billion in emergency funds and increasing amount of tests available among other measures. Representatives from Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, and Target said they will be using their store parking lots to help with drive through coronavirus testing, but according to a Walgreens official "non-Walgreens health personnel will administer COVID-19 testing" with Walgreen only providing the space. The White House said there will be "up to two million additional tests" available next week.
  • Three new positive cases in Arkansas, bringing total to nine
  • Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. confirms first community transmission case
  • UAMS College of Pharmacy is removing all pharmacy students from experiential settings (APPEs & IPPEs) immediately and shifting all in-person classes to online. Harding University College of Pharmacy is shifting all lecture content and courses online and suspending all activities and gatherings until further notice. APPEs and IPPEs for Harding students will continue unaffected unless otherwise dictated by the individual clinical site or the HUCOP Office of Experiential Education. While some students are being removed from their educational rotations in an abundance of caution, the many student pharmacists who are employed in community and health-system pharmacies as pharmacy interns and pharmacy technicians are free to continue working as paid employees. The Arkansas Pharmacists Association team personally thanks you during these trying times as you are vital to the healthcare team. 

  • 3/12/20 - UA Little Rock and UA Fayetteville move classes online; Arkansas State Capitol closed to visitors
  • 3/12/20 - All schools in Pulaski, Saline, Jefferson, and Grant Counties to close from March 13 - March 30
  • 3/12/20 - Presumptive Cases in Arkansas Rises to 6

  • 3/11/20 - 2nd Presumptive Case Confirmed in Little Rock


Arkansas Resources & Information

  • Arkansas Department of Health Updates
  • UAMS Launches Online COVID ScreeningUAMS has launched a website to provide Arkansans with an online COVID-19 screening. Depending on the results of the screening, UAMS may conduct an interactive video consult with the patient and the appropriate authorities / response teams may be notified. Please use this as an option for referral if there is a patient you are concerned about.
  • Arkansas Department of Health Call CenterIf you or your patient has questions about COVID-19 or thinks they may have been exposed, please call 1-800-803-7847 during normal business hours for urgent and non-urgent calls. For urgent calls needing immediate response after normal business hours, please call 501-661-2136. We encourage all pharmacists to save these phone numbers in their cell phones, in addition to posting them in their pharmacy, to ensure they are easily available if needed.
  • Arkansas Children's Hospital: ACH is providing a hotline for anyone with questions or if you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Call 1-800-743-3616 to speak with an Arkansas Children's pediatric nurse. Nursing staff will be available for questions and phone screenings 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • U.S. Small Business Administration: The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the COVID-19.
  • Arkansas Department of Health Guidance for Employers
  • Arkansas Department of Health Guidance for Pharmacies
  • Arkansas Board of Pharmacy Update: The Arkansas Board of Pharmacy has sent out a composite list of answers to some of the questions they have been receiving about COVID-19, including questions about limited pharmacy hours and services, patient protocol, and medication refills. Additionally, the Board has shared recommendations concerning potential compounding personal protective equipment shortages

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield Refills Alert: APA has received word that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arkansas is sending out a message to their group administrators announcing several changes due to the coronavirus pandemic. There will be no prior authorizations for COVID-19 diagnostic tests and covered services that meet primary coverage criteria and are consistent with CDC guidance; BCBS will cover COVID-19 diagnostic tests ordered by in-network providers that meet primary coverage criteria; and BCBS will increase access to prescription medications by waiving early medication refill limits on 30-day prescription maintenance medications. These changes are in effect through May 15.
  • American Pharmacists Association: APhA has officially canceled its annual meeting set for March 20-23 in Washington, D.C. due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Attorney General Warns of Price Gouging: Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is warning Arkansans about possible price gouging of healthcare products, noting that the practice is illegal in Arkansas and that her office will "hold bad actors accountable who take advantage of Arkansans."


Guides & Printed Materials

  • Emerging Best Practices for Pharmacies
    • Mitigating/Managing staff exposure to novel Coronavirus: In addition to primary care providers and emergency room staff, pharmacy staff (including delivery drivers) are at risk for exposure. As health care professionals, we chose to be on the front lines, remaining accessible but also responsible for mitigating risk of infection to ourselves. This is necessary for both the health of your staff but also to the health of the population we serve that comes into contact with your staff. For guidance on how to minimize risk of staff exposure, click here to access information NCPA has put on their website. Another resource for pharmacy-specific guidance is information that the Arkansas Pharmacists Association developed collaboratively with the Arkansas State Department of Health, accessible here.
    • Testing patients in your community for Coronavirus infection: There is still a great deal of uncertainty regarding testing, its availability, who can order it, who can administer it, and where to send the results. APhA, NCPA and other professional associations have been pleading with authorities for pharmacy to participate materially in testing. And it seems there is finally some movement. PrescribeWellness announced to many of its users yesterday that it is facilitating testing and asking pharmacies to be collection stations; they will be the authority for information regarding their program. They have not communicated any additional information to us as of this early stage, and we will pass along details if they reach out. Hopefully others will be able to follow their lead as South Korea has demonstrated the enormous benefit of widespread testing.
    • Supporting and caring for your patients who test positive for novel CoronavirusThis is the area of greatest uncertainty, and in our opinion our greatest responsibility.  Most of you have medication synchronization programs that serve high numbers of at-risk populations.  If widespread testing is successful and the virus moves rapidly through the population, most of those patients will be asked to self-quarantine as hospitals and clinics become stressed. Consider what your standard plan of care and follow up will be for patients who test positive – both asymptomatic as well as symptomatic, both at-risk with underlying conditions or not at risk. Start to formulate a plan for how you will manage each of these four situations operationally in your pharmacy. We have charged our CPESN practice transformation team with identifying best practices to report back to you often – stay tuned on that front.
    • How to communicate with your local community about COVID-19: You and your pharmacies are trusted sources of information in your local communities. The internet and social media outlets are flooded with information about this pandemic. When overwhelmed with information, your neighbors are looking to you to sort through all of it and help explain what they really need to know and what actions they need to take. By helping your community and patients in this manner, you are providing public health officials with a microphone for responsible, accurate information that patients hear from a local, trusted voice. There are many CPESN Luminaries who have done some excellent community-based outreach of late. 
  • FDA Guidance for Temporary Compounding of Hand Sanitizer
  • Coronavirus Information for Pharmacists and Staff - Internal use document of information about the coronavirus, symptoms, treatment, and prevention
  • Curbside and Drive Thru Flyers - Flyers to share with patients suggesting they use the curbside or drive thru options if they've been diagnosed with influenza or another respiratory illness
  • COVID Checklist: The Ohio Department of Health has provided a COVID-19 Checklist for Pharmacies of the top 10 things pharmacies can do to prepare for COVID-19
  • CDC Handout - Keeping Workplace, School, Home, and Commercial Establishments Safe
  • NCPA Handouts - Tips to Protect Yourself and Coronavirus Symptoms
  • Additionally, consider advising your patients to make sure they have supplies of ibuprofen, Tylenol, throat lozenges, and fluids at home to treat any illness they may experience in the coming weeks/months. It’s also a good idea to recommend patients get a flu shot to lower the impact hospitals will be facing.
  • COVID-19 Employee Screening Tools: A local pharmacy provided APA with handouts they are using to screen employees for COVID-19


Business / Employer Update
 

  • State Economic Relief
    • $12 million in community development block grant funds for businesses affected by pandemic; priority will be to hospitals and essential services
    • $4 million bridge loan program for businesses to make payroll and pay bills; loans will be in amounts up to $250,000
    • 803 child care providers have closed so the state will be providing incentives for childcare centers that remain open
    • SNAP Benefits - work requirements are temporarily suspended 
    • Visit www.sba.gov/coronavirus (1-501-324-7279) or visit www.arkansasedc.com/covid19 (1-501-682-1121) for more information
    • Governor Hutchinson signed an executive order yesterday that gives executive agencies the authority to temporarily suspend 'any regulatory statute, agency, or rule that in any way prevents, hinders, or delays the agency's ability to render maximum assistance to the citizens of this state while they are adhering to guidelines to prohibit the spread of disease..."
  • The Trump Administration has proposed a $1-trillion economic stimulus package to counter the effects of the coronavirus, including relief for small businesses and provide sizable checks for American in the next two weeks: Read more here.
  • The State Chamber/AIA wants to hear from you! If you have business-related questions, ideas or stories to share in regard to COVID-19, please let us know. There is a section at the top of the COVID-19 page on our website where you can provide and share that information with us here.
  • Below are additional links that may be helpful for your business and organization:
    • U.S. SBA Disaster Assistance in Response to the Coronavirus here.
    • U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division – FLSA and FLMA Guidance here.
    • U.S. EEOC Guidance here.
    • Coronavirus in the Workplace: Health, Safety and Insurance Considerations here.
    • An Employer’s Guide: Ten Considerations to Support Your Workforce here.
    • COVID-19 and Paid Leave: Three Scenarios to Plan For here.
    • The Workers Compensation Impacts of 2019 Coronavirus here.
  • For additional information and resources, check out the State Chamber's COVID-19 Coronavirus and Arkansas page here.
  • COVID-19 Employee Screening Tools: A local pharmacy provided APA with handouts they are using to screen employees for COVID-19

 


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