River Valley Stand Together, River Valley Strong!


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
E: Jurena.Storm@FortSmithAR.gov | www.fortsmithar.gov
For Immediate Release

River Valley Stands Together
River Valley Strong!

River Valley State Senator Mat Pitsch, State Representatives, County Judges, Mayors, and a City Administrator met at the Sebastian County Emergency Operations Center along with County Health Administrators, EMS operators, Emergency Operations staff, and our medical advisor, Dr. Lee Johnson to discuss and coordinate the response to the novel.

“Sebastian County elected officials and emergency management staff are actively engaged to support the presidential and governor declared national health emergency to address the coronavirus. Coordination with our medical providers, EMS and other first responders and meetings with our regional county judges, city administrator, mayors and emergency management staff will continue. The Sebastian County Emergency operations Center has been activated and a Sebastian County Emergency has been declared."

Stated Sebastian County Judge, David Hudson, “County residents are encouraged to conduct business on- line, by telephone and mail as much as possible, reduce visits to public facilities for services and remain vigilant in personal health care and prevention."

Crawford County Judge, Doug Gilstrap, extended words of encouragement and direction, “my wish is to assure the public Crawford County along with its regional partners are incorporating the most effective known prevention methods of the spread of Covid-19 as recommended by the CDC. I ask the public to cooperate with local health and government officials and to continue to monitor this public health

Jerry Martin, Mayor, City of Alma, offered these words of reassurance to River Valley residents that your Elected Officials are in the know and working on your behalf; “These are unprecedented times which call for unprecedented actions, unprecedented partnerships and cooperation. I would like to thank all of our regional Mayors for their willingness to meet and work together to combat the COVID-19 virus. Let me make clear that we understand that because of our proximity and ties to each other, which only through coordinated efforts we will be able to slow the spread of this virus.”

“I’m grateful to work side-by-side with our outstanding regional leaders. I can assure Van Buren, and our entire River Valley community, that we are unified in our efforts to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our citizens”, said Joe Hurst, Mayor of Van Buren.

Everyone in attendance agreed to follow the guidelines of the CDC, the Governor’s Office, the Arkansas Department of Health and the respective County Department of Health Services to develop protocols and safety precautions for the River Valley. The group’s medical advisor, Representative Lee Johnson, serves
as the State Representative of District 75, which covers parts of Sebastian and Crawford Counties, he is an Emergency Medical Physician and also serves as Medical Director for FSEMS and SWEMS.

Mayor, Susan Wilson, of Mountainburg, wanted to assure her residents that City of Mountainburg Services will continue as normal.

Mayor Gary Baxter, of Mulberry, reminds us all that of the benefits we have living in the River Valley of Western Arkansas, “the elected officials work tremendously well together to coordinate and cooperate for the health, security and welfare for all of our citizens. A number of your State, County and City elected officials agreed to our action of ensuring your essential services are available to everyone. Your Police force, Fire department personnel, Public Works employees are on the job. Our Senior Adults who need meals will be provided for and our school children will have food to eat. We are here for you.

The message is clear, River Valley Leaders will stand together to protect the health and safety of the residents.

City Administrator, Carl Geffken, echoes this sentiment with the following statement, “The leaders of our River Valley cities and counties have been coming together to plan and prepare for the novel coronavirus just like everyone around the state. Now is the time for our residents to limit their contacts to 10 people or less, to wash their hands, and to take all precautions. Doing this now will lead to success”.

To date the River Valley has no COVID-19 cases reported. Dr. Lee Johnson, Medical Consultant to the River Valley Mayors, offers the following Best Practices for residents:
•practice good handwashing
•cover coughs and sneezes
•avoid touching your face
•get your annual flu shot
•stay home when you are sick

However, if you think you are sick, please call a healthcare provider before going to a medical office, clinic, convenient care location or the emergency room. This will allow the healthcare facility to prepare for your arrival. This will help the facility protect themselves and other patients.

There are a number of healthcare options available to assist you in determining the best course of action if you are sick.

UAMS Health is offering free online screening for COVID-19. Please visit www.uamshealth.com/healthnow/

Should you have questions you can call the UAMS Health hotline at 1-800-632-4502. For patients less than 18 years old, call 1-800-743-3616 to speak with an Arkansas Children’s pediatric nurse. Nursing staff will be available for questions and phone screening 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

ADH has activated a call center to answer questions from health care providers and the public about the novel coronavirus. During normal business hours (8:00am – 4:30pm), urgent and non-urgent calls, please call 1-800-803-7847. After normal business hours, urgent calls needing immediate response, please call 501-661-2136.

For more information about Covid-19, visit www.uamshealth.com/coronavirus, www.healthy.arkansas.gov, or www.cdc.gov.

Should you or a member of your family has to At-Home Quarantine, the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management offers the following advice:

You will need two (2) weeks’ worth of food. Keep in mind that unlike a natural disaster, people will still be continuing life outside of your quarantine. Enlist the help of family, friends or neighbors to bring you some extra food.

Consider getting soap, hand lotion (washing hands and/or using hand sanitizer will dry hands out), hand sanitizer, etc. Since it’s not likely that the power will be out, food other than non-perishable food can be gathered as well such as fresh/frozen vegetables and other food items that you might not normally keep in a preparedness kit.

This is a great time to go through your home kit, or build one, while you’re thinking of what might be necessary during your quarantine. Typical home preparedness kits include perishable food, water, and change of clothing, blanket, flashlight, batteries, trash bags, and paper plates/napkins, can opener, and books or games.

Mayor Doug Kinslow, Greenwood, Arkansas advises Greenwood residents, “We are closely monitoring all the available information regarding the coronavirus pandemic. Currently city offices remain open to serve our citizens. We encourage you to utilize the online payment method, drive thru
window, or drop box for your payments. We will continue to provide essential services as always. If you know of anyone who might need assistance. Please do not hesitate to call City Hall at 996-2742 for assistance. We will get through this together!

As this health emergency continues to evolve, please visit your city and county websites and social media pages regularly for updated information specific to your location.

“We can all do some small things that will help in a big way”, say Mayor George McGill of Fort Smith, “do your part to keep our communities healthy. I am extremely happy with the response from the City of Fort Smith. The City Staff, Board of Directors and Employees, are once again displaying the Teamwork and care for our community that we showed the world during the historic flood. Our community partners in business, non-profit organizations, schools, civic organizations and social clubs, just to mention a few has all shown leadership and social responsibility without hesitation. This kind of action is what continues to keep us Fort Smith Proud and River Valley Strong.