Today we spoke to Lawrence County Coroner Chris Warden concerning the announcement of the recent deaths at Walnut Ridge Nursing and Rehab. Warden offered some explanation involving how the deaths are handled by a coroner.

Warden stated that a death within a facility other than a hospital would require the local coroner be notified to pronounce the patient or victim as deceased. This was the case in the first patient passing away at the WRNR facility in early April. Warden added that in the cases of the last two victims these patients were moved out of county for medical treatment therefore passing away in other counties. Thus Coroner Warden was not notified of the victims passing. One patient was moved to a facility in Independence County for treatment before passing away and another was moved to a Craighead County facility for treatment before losing their battle with COVID-19.

Coroner Chris Warden also added that he’s been in discussions with the Arkansas Coroner’s Association and added that counties DO NOT receive any additional funding for COVID-19 deaths which has been rumored on social media recently. He stated there is also no hazardous pay or stimulus funding for county coroners stating it does not benefit a county to mislead the public in any way concerning deaths.

Coroner Warden stated he’s been in contact with both Representative Cavenaugh and the Administration at Walnut Ridge Nursing and Rehabilitation over this matter.

Note: the number of deaths assigned to each county has not been updated as fast as the announcements have developed by the Arkansas Department of Health.