LITTLE ROCK – In December, Governor Hutchinson directed the Arkansas Department of Health to acquire 1.5 million rapid at-home tests to be available for free to Arkansans.

Arkansas has received the first shipment of 211,000 at-home testing kits and the process of delivering those to the respective distribution locations will begin shortly.

Governor Hutchinson said that the cost of these tests is around $10 million and will be covered by existing funds available in the COVID response budget. The tests will be available at public local libraries, public health units, and other locations. The National Guard will be assisting in the delivery of these at-home tests.

Expanding Hospital Beds

Governor Hutchinson requested $50 million be distributed to hospitals around the state to fund extra beds which will be used to help with the surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations. This request was approved by the Arkansas American Rescue Plan Act Steering Committee, and the disbursement of this funding requires legislative approval.

Governor Hutchinson created the Arkansas American Rescue Plan Act Steering Committee in 2020 to make recommendations on the distribution of approximately $1.57 billion in funding from the federal government.

The proposed plan includes adding 98 COVID ICU beds and 167 COVID medical beds to be funded for timelines of 28-45 days based on the recommendations from the Arkansas Department of Health. The hospitals which will receive those beds are:

  • St. Bernards Medical Center
  • Mercy – Rogers
  • Conway Regional
  • SVI – LR
  • SVI – Hot Springs
  • Washington Regional
  • Unity Health – White County
  • Baptist Health – Conway
  • Baptist Health – Van Buren
  • Mercy – Fort Smith
  • Arkansas Children’s