White County justices of the peace voted Tuesday to include themselves in an emergency ordinance that addresses leave policies in times of a possible health emergency declared by the governor.

White County Judge Michael Lincoln said in his thinking the JPs shouldn’t be penalized in health emergencies, but he couldn’t make that ruling. “That’s up to you all,” he said, “because it has to do with reimbursement. I can’t give something that is not mine to give.”

Newly installed JP Debra Lang made the motion to include the White County Quorum Court in the ordinance and it passed unanimously. Now, if any JPs have to miss a meeting due to being quarantined because of COVID-19 or being infected with the virus, they will be covered and not lose their pay, which is $675.03 a month.

Lincoln said if JPs miss a meeting because of these factors and have to miss another meeting, they will not be penalized. “It will not count against you as an absence,” Lincoln told the JPs.

White County employees, under the ordinance, are covered with 14 days of leave.

Lincoln also addressed White County’s COVID-19 numbers during the monthly meeting. He mentioned The New York Times having Searcy “No. 7 in the nation, No. 2 in the nation” with COVID-19 cases a couple of weeks ago.

“I don’t know where they got their numbers,” Lincoln said. “If we added the city numbers of Searcy and Beebe, that’s pretty much the county.

“I am just going to give you the raw facts – two days ago [Sunday], we had 15 new cases in White County, two days ago. The active cases went down 39 and our recoveries went up 54. We don’t always hear about the recoveries. Today, [Tuesday], our numbers: total reported cases up 20, active cases down 76, recovered up 96. We have had 76 deaths total.”

As of early Friday afternoon, the Arkansas Department of Health had White County lists as having 6,172 total cases (4,162 confirmed), including 366 active cases (231 confirmed). The county has had 5,723 recoveries (3,860 confirmed) and 82 COVID-related deaths (70 confirmed).

“I get these numbers every day for White County,” Lincoln said. “I don’t get them broken down by city, but at times I have gotten them broken down by city. Most of our cases are within city limits. When you get out in the rural area where people are more scattered, you’re not going to have as many cases. That’s not the rule, that’s just an observation.”

The Quorum Court is still having meetings at the White County Cooperative Extension Service Office auditorium to allow for social distancing.

In a final remark, Lincoln said when the Veterans Day event was held outside the extension service building, it was realized that there weren’t any flag poles.

“Barry [Hoffman, the architect] has some plans drawn up, we are going to go through Delk [Construction in Searcy] since they did the project and ... will know where everything is. Real soon we will have three flag poles out there in front of our extension center – one for the American, one for the Arkansas and one for the 4-H.”

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