First COVID-19 Case Confirmed in Fort Smith

Contact: Jurena L. Storm, CAP-OM

Office of Mayor George B. McGill

City of Fort Smith, Arkansas

Office: (479) 784-2344 Cell: (479) 221-7831



For Immediate Release


First COVID-19 Case Confirmed in Fort Smith

FORT SMITH, Ark. (March 21, 2020) – Mayor George McGill and City Administrator, Carl Geffken were alerted by Arkansas Department this morning of the first positive Coronavirus (COVID-19) case in Fort Smith.

Governor Hutchinson confirmed this new case in Sebastian County during his daily COVID-19 update. 

Yesterday’s press conference hosted by River Valley joint Leadership advised River Valley residents of the preparations and resources available to care for cases when they arrive in the River Valley.

“Now that the first case has reached Fort Smith, we are prepared to meet the challenge and care for our residents as we should,” stated Carl Geffen, City Administrator.  

The joint hotline between Mercy Fort Smith and Baptist Health Fort Smith is available for residents to ask questions about COVID-19 and be screened by trained clinical staff who will determine whether the caller should be sent to a testing site staffed by health care workers from Mercy Fort Smith and Baptist Health.  The number to call is (479) 289-6508, the hotline is staffed Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Fort Smith residents are encouraged to use the hotline to reduce their exposure to the general public. Health care professionals will be able to clinically assess symptoms over the phone and direct callers to the appropriate next steps and have the ability to schedule a COVID test when appropriate. Callers do not have to be a patient at either hospital to use the hotline.

Fort Smith City Leadership encourages all residents to follow the information that was given yesterday.  Practice social distancing, wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and warm water. Cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.  Avoid touching your face, stay home when you are sick.

Mayor McGill continues to stress the importance of taking personal responsibility for reducing the spread of COVID-19. “This is the time to follow the directions of the leaders that you have put in place. We have had hard times before, adversity is not new to us.  But, we also know how to respond. We know how to put our shoulders to the grind stone and work together to care for one another”.