Crittenden County faces limited COVID-19 testing as Ark. prepares to reopen

Updated: Apr. 26, 2020 at 9:49 PM CDT
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CRITTENDEN COUNTY, Ark. (WMC) - Crittenden County has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in East Arkansas with 173 as of Sunday morning.

But some viewers have complained to WMC Action News 5 that there weren't enough testing locations or testing kits available.

According to the Arkansas Health Department website, there are only two locations to get a COVID-19 test in West Memphis.


The East Arkansas Family Health Center is one of those two sites.

But the mayor of West Memphis says testing sites aren’t their biggest problem. Viewers have asked WMC Action News 5 to look into the access of COVID-19 tests in West Memphis.

On Sunday, we found both of the testing locations in West Memphis closed.

“But that’s not the biggest problem," said West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon. "The problem that we are having is testing kits.”

McClendon says all across Arkansas it’s been difficult getting enough COVID-19 tests.

“Even if they’re asymptomatic we want to make sure that everyone is tested if the governor is thinking of opening up the city in another week," said McClendon.

Monday afternoon, McClendon and the West Memphis City Council is holding a special meeting to vote on a $100,000 plan that will get more tests for the city as well as buying masks for residents who don’t have them, supporting local small businesses and buying more food for distribution.

“We’re trying to do everything that we can to play our part and help our community, as well as our businesses, are all getting involved so we just want to be one family here," said McClendon.

As Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson prepares to begin opening certain businesses in phases starting April 29 with restaurants, McClendon says he is strongly encouraging people to stay home and social distance as much as possible.

“Because it’s open, doesn’t mean you have to go,” said McClendon.

With a declining rate of COVID-19 cases, McClendon is hopeful people in West Memphis will continue doing the right thing to keep themselves and their neighbors safe.

“We as a community together, can do the things that are necessary to make sure that West Memphis will be on top once this thing is over," said McClendon.

The West Memphis City Council will present the $100,000 plan Monday at 2 p.m.

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