LITTLE ROCK – At his weekly news briefing today, Governor Asa Hutchinson made an announcement of a partnership between Arkansas State Police, the Arkansas Department of Transportation, and three national wireless carriers.
Governor Hutchinson said that the partnership will place a tool in the hands of Arkansas citizens to use for contacting the Arkansas State Police.
The new four-digit speed dial *277 or *ASP is available to all AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon cellular phones in Arkansas. Callers will be connected to the Arkansas State Police and will be used as a non-emergency phone line to help make traveling Arkansas a safer experience. Arkansas Representative Stephen Meeks sponsored the legislation that led to the announcement of this partnership. He spoke about the importance of safety on the highways of the state. He said that he presented the idea after driving to Little Rock and seeing someone driving over 100 MPH weaving through traffic. “While it didn’t rise to the level to a 911 call, their recklessness could have turned into a tragedy,” Rep. Meeks said, “I have no doubt this will save lives, and it’s a great example of how state government can work together with industry to make life a little bit safer for all Arkansans.”
Director of the Arkansas State Police, Bill Bryant, said that it will allow Arkansans to reach state police if they need them. The types of calls he said they anticipate receiving are those from stranded or lost motorists or for reporting suspicious activity or safety concerns related to dangerous driving of others.
Governor Hutchinson highlighted the new unemployment rate in Arkansas, he said that the new numbers show Arkansas went down to 3.1% which is the lowest in the history of the state.That’s an extraordinary number to come down, it is lower than the national average which is 3.9%,” Governor Hutchinson said. “It shows that we have 1,353,000 Arkansans in the labor force which is up over 26,000 workers since 2015.”
He said that Arkansas has increased the labor force over the years by growing in manufacturing and hospitality numbers, but that is offset some by losing workers in the health care industry and in education.”It is a reminder of the strain that our workforce sees and feels during this pandemic,” Governor Hutchinson said, “Omicron is part of the cause for those leaving work. It is important to get those numbers back up.”
Governor Hutchinson presented the COVID-19 report for Tuesday with 7,943 new cases in the last 24 hours. Active cases are down 3,742 and there were 24 deaths due to COVID-19.Hospitalizations have reduced by 32 over the last 24 hours with patients on ventilators increasing by 18. This was one day after an increase of more than 100 hospitalizations due to COVID-19.
“There is a need to bring on additional hospital beds, that’s the reason we have asked the General Assembly to approve the $4.7 million for UAMS to expand beds that will allow 28 med surge beds and 7 ICU beds,” Governor Hutchinson said.
Based on COVID-19 cases by age data it shows that cases in every age group are declining which he said is a good sign that new cases rates are going down in most age groups of Arkansans.You can watch the full briefing HERE.