LITTLE ROCK â€“ Governor Asa Hutchinson has created the COVID-19 Winter Task Force and has appointed 19 physicians, state officials, and health care executives to advise him as the state combats the likely additional challenges of the pandemic this winter.

“We continue to see a record number of COVID-19 cases, and as winter approaches, we must take this head-on with a strategy that is medically sound and data-driven,” Governor Hutchinson said at a news conference today. “This will ensure that we are combating COVID-19 with the best resources to limit the spread and mitigate the impact of the virus while we wait for a vaccine.” 

Governor Hutchinson will serve as chair, and Dr. Greg Bledsoe, Arkansas Surgeon General, will serve as vice chair. The other members of the COVID-19 Winter Task Force are: 

  1. Larry Shackelford, President and CEO of Washington Regional Medical Center;

  2. Chris Barber, President and CEO of St. Bernard’s Healthcare;

  3. Scott Street, CEO of Medical Center of South Arkansas;

  4. Dr. Cam Patterson, Chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences;

  5. Rachel Bunch, Executive Director of Arkansas Health Care Association;

  6. Bo Ryall, President and CEO of Arkansas Hospital Association;

  7. Troy Wells, President and CEO of Baptist Health;

  8. Ryan Gehrig, President of Mercy Hospital, Fort Smith;

  9. Major General Kendall Penn, Adjutant General, Arkansas National Guard;

 10. A.J. Gary, Director of Arkansas Department of Emergency Management;

 11. Dr. José Romero, Secretary of Arkansas Department of Health;

 12. Dr. Jerrilyn Jones, Arkansas Department of Health;

 13. Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, Arkansas Department of Health;

 14. Dr. Naveen Patil, Arkansas Department of Health;

 15. Dr. Keyur Vyas, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences;

 16. Phillip Gilmore, CEO of Ashley County Medical Center;

 17. Dr. Steven Collier, CEO of ARcare;

 18. Ron Peterson, President and CEO of Baxter County Regional Medical Center; and

 19. Additional citizens as the Governor deems necessary.