Arkansas is making smart moves to curb the spread of COVID-19, but taking away people’s paychecks without support isn’t a good enough solution. Arkansas’s leaders need to make sure that working people are taken care of during this crisis.
Closing all but essential services is a wise public health move. State health officials ought to be applauded for working to break the curve, and for beginning to follow some best practices laid out by state Rep. Denise Garner in a recent letter in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
THV11 — During the Monday afternoon press conference, Dr. Nate Smith with the Arkansas Department of Health has ordered salons, barbershops and tattoo shops close their doors in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Arkansas.
This came after Governor Hutchinson spoke extensively on the revenue loss from businesses closing and slowing due to the social distancing guidelines and the newly announced pushback of the state tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15.
Governor Asa Hutchinson has signaled he will soon call a special session of the Legislature. It is needed to address failings in the public health system; an impending $353 million shortfall between now and the end of the budget year in Arkansas’s economy; and the impending, crippling burdens of upcoming rent and utility payments and the prospects of weeks without a paycheck for hundreds of thousands of Arkansans.
Most working Arkansans survive paycheck to paycheck. Depriving people of the ability to pay their rent, utility bills, and eat during a public health crisis is a catastrophe in the making. There must be financial assistance directed toward small business owners and working people, and not a continuation of bailouts for financial institutions and elite corporations. There must be paid sick leave plans established for Arkansas workers. There must be moratoriums placed on foreclosures, evictions, and utility terminations. Now more than ever, the working people of Arkansas deserve the support of elected officials in the Arkansas Legislature and U.S. Congress.
Our public health plan is depending on it. Our economy is depending on it. And Arkansas families are depending on it.