West Memphis rolling out COVID-19 relief efforts
Programs put hold on utility cutoffs, nonessential businesses to close
With two confirmed cases of coronavirus in Crittenden County, city and community leaders in West Memphis have announced a number of efforts to help minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local residents. On Monday, West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon launched a COVID-19 Community Relief Program.
According to McClendon, efforts will focus on supporting children and families, hourly wage earners, businesses, health care workers, older adults, people living with disabilities, first responders and others feeling the effects of the outbreak.
The first place residents will see relief is with their utilities. To minimize the impact on the community, the West Memphis has implemented several updated operations procedures effective immediately:
■ ■ The West Memphis Utilities will temporarily suspend disconnects for residential and commercial customers for nonpayment.
■ ■ West Memphis Utilities will also suspend all late fees at this time.
■ ■ Free WiFi and computer access available in the West Memphis First Baptist Church parking lot.
■ ■ Childcare assistance for health care workers and first responders is available.
■ ■ After hours meal program.
For those concerned about potentially having COVID-19, today, there will be a drive-by testing clinic in the city. For the first 50 patients who have the tell-tale symptoms of coronavirus, East Arkansas Family Health Center will conduct on-site testing from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. EAFHC is located at 900 N. 7th St., across from the Arkansas Department of Health.
McClendon emphasized that the city is not closed, but people are encouraged to stay home if possible.
“My office has received dozens of calls from families and businesses that are struggling. I believe this is the time to answer them,” said McClendon. “No, our city is not closed. And we want you to be cautions and continue to follow the CDC requirements. Don’t panic, and let’s please be rational. This is an issue, and an epidemic that we’re gonna have to storm through. And we will together as a city, and as a people. But I’m asking everyone to be patient, I’m asking everyone not to panic. Take the proper precautions to make sure you are safe.”
Social distancing and self-quarantine are being stressed.
“We are asking people to be cautious. And if you don’t have to go out, don’t go out, make sure you’re at home. But the city of West Memphis is not closing. I know local cities may be doing that near us, but that’s
See RELIEF, page A2
“Don’t panic, and let’s please be rational. This is an issue, and an epidemic that we’re gonna have to storm through. And we will together as a city, and as a people. But I’m asking everyone to be patient, I’m asking everyone not to panic.”
West Memphis Mayor RELIEF
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not at the point to where we’re at,” McClendon added. “One thing I don’t want West Memphians doing is panicking. All the buying at the store, and buying all the tissue… I want you to be properly equipped, but right now, that’s not necessary for West Memphis.”
On Tuesday, the city announced it would be complying with a mandate from Little Rock.
“In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, Governor Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Department of Health have ordered all Barbers, Body Art establishments, Body Art schools, Cosmetology establishments, Massage Therapy Clinics/Spas, and Medical Spas to close for in-person operations. Maintaining any related schools’ distance education/ learning is acceptable.”
The release explained the rationale for the move.
“This directive to Barbers, Body Art Establishments, Body Art Schools, Cosmetology Establishments and Massage Therapy Clinics/ Spas, and Medical Spas is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus,” it said. “This directive and mandate is subject to change as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses.”
The directive will be in effect as of noon today.
“I want you to be calm,” said McClendon. “Follow the law. Live your life to the best of your ability at this time. Continue to pray, keep yourself safe, but we are not closing down at this point. We’re going to continue living life, trusting in God, and being safe. Our number one priority remains to protect our customers and employees while continuing to provide electric, water and sewer services to the community.”
If you wish to donate items, services or wish to help, call 870-732-7534.