Another COVID-19-related death from the Beebe Retirement Center is being declared by the White County Coroner’s Office, according to Deputy Coroner B.J. Rouse, bringing the total to five since resident coronavirus cases began being reported in early August.

Rouse said technically the most recent individual died in the Unity Health-White County Medical Center emergency room but came from the Beebe Retirement Center, which still was listed in the most recent nursing homes and congregate settings report as having 44 residents and 21 staff with COVID-19. However, the most recent report available as of Wednesday afternoon was Sept. 4.

“I’m afraid it’s just going to get worse really,” Rouse said. “You talk about people who are defenseless and fighting it. We had one Sunday and one Tuesday. Monday is the only day we didn’t have one. I hope they can get it under control.”

During Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s daily news briefing Wednesday, state Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero mentioned the Beebe Retirement Center as being one of two nursing facilities with a “small cluster” of deaths. The other facility mentioned was one in El Dorado.

The latest COVID-19 numbers from the Arkansas Department of Health for White County increased to 14 deaths Wednesday.

Rouse explained that while he already has the medical records on all five of the individuals from the nursing home who have died, he is waiting on the funeral homes to put them in the system so he can certify them.

“Whatever the state reflection is [on the deaths] will probably be under,” he said. “The one from Sunday, they are just now putting in today [Tuesday]. As soon as the one from Tuesday is put in, I will be able to certify it also. Hopefully by the end of the week those will be reflected on the actual state registry.”

White County also did not have any schools listed on the Department of Health’s COVID-19 school report released Monday, but county schools had to cancel football games for the second time this season because of coronavirus concerns. Harding Academy canceled its Aug. 28 opener against Bald Knob after nine students, including eight football players, at the academy tested positive for the virus. Then, on Wednesday, the Riverview and Bald Knob school districts announced they were canceling their junior high meeting today and high school clash Friday.

Both Riverview and Bald Knob officials said that no one on the football teams had tested positive, but Bald Knob High School Principal and Athletic Director Sarah Shannon released a statement saying that “the district learned [Tuesday] that a Bald Knob High School student tested positive for COVID-19.”

“Ten athletes have been quarantined due to being in close contact with the known positive,” Shannon said. “Currently, one of those athletes is exhibiting similar symptoms.

“Under the advisement of our director of nursing and the ADH, we are treating this as a positive case as we await the results of a COVID-19 test.”

Shannon said while the decision to cancel the games “might cause frustration and inconvenience, as a district, our No. 1 responsibility is to maintain the health and safety of our students and faculty.”

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