ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas’ request for federal assistance for losses pertaining to COVID-19 comes on the heels several previous requests related to severe storms. Most recent is the Jonesboro tornado that happened on March 28.
Twelve gubernatorial declared disasters — plus three federal — have been made in connection to severe storms, tornadoes and flooding, according to a letter from U.S. Congressman Steve Womack, that includes other state lawmakers, to President Donald Trump. They “urge” the president to support Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request for a major disaster declaration due to COVID-19 pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief Act.
Read the letter here.
Lawmakers expect COVID-19 confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths to increase, according to the letter.
The governor has assigned more than $43 million from the “Governor’s Disaster Fund” to be used for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The decision was based on the understanding that Arkansas would not be getting the necessary supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), an agency managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
PPE REQUESTS THROUGHOUT THE STATE
In addition to PPE shortages, the letter mentions the expected economic repercussions because of COVID-19, as another reason assistance from the federal government is necessary.
In part the letter reads:
“Small businesses in Arkansas make up 99.3 percent of all businesses in the state, representing 490,000 employees, which is almost half of the states’ workforce. Due to COVID-19, both small businesses and major employers have been forced to close their doors, compelling businesses to take drastic measures such as temporary or permanent lay-offs.”