Gov. Asa Hutchinson has established a new working group to provide recommendations on containing COVID-19 in Arkansas and helping to restore the Arkansas economy.
Hutchinson announced the working group, officially entitled the Governor’s COVID-19 Testing Advisory Group, during his daily update on Monday, April 20. He signed an executive order creating the advisory group on Tuesday, April 21.
The group was scheduled to meet virtually at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
According to the executive order, the advisory committee is charged with identifying the “criteria for determining public health strategy after Arkansas reaches the peak of COVID-19.”
During the Monday press conference, Hutchinson discussed the need to increase the state’s testing capabilities past contact tracing and into broader surveillance-based testing. The working group, he said, would be instrumental in advising state officials during the shift to surveillance testing as well on the resources necessary to perform increased testing.
“Arkansas’s ability to conduct adequate diagnostic and surveillance testing will affect the state’s public-health strategy and economic-recovery efforts after Arkansas reaches its peak number of COVID-19 cases,” Hutchinson said in a statement “As we prepare to shift Arkansas’s economy out of low gear, it is important for us to have more comprehensive information about the spread of COVID-19 in the state.”
This advisory group will be a complementary group to the Governor’s Economic Recovery Task Force. Hutchinson said in a Tuesday press conference that the testing advisory group’s recommendations would serve as the public health guidelines that would help the Economic Recovery Task Force make decisions in regards to the state’s economy.
The full list of members on the Governor’s COVID-19 Testing Advisory Group include:
- Nathaniel Smith, ADH
- Glen Baker, ADH
- Naveen Patil, ADH
- Katie Seely, ADH
- Jennifer Hunt, UAMS
- Jose Romero, ADH, UAMS, Arkansas Children’s
- Atul Kothari, ADH, UAMS
- Robin Mitchell, Arkansas Children’s
- Bobby Boyanton, Arkansas Children’s