Home Breaking News From church to schools to businesses, virus affects everyone

From church to schools to businesses, virus affects everyone

SUNDAY MORNING. Members of the First Baptist Church praise team sing in front of an iPad for a congregation watching on Facebook Live instead of in the worship center Sunday morning. The group includes Gary Revels, Allie Westbrook, Bekah Lovelis, music minister Don Hall, Monica Wallace, Dacia Strickland and Jamie Wallace. FBC was among congregations throughout Nashville and nationwide which used TV, radio, Facebook, YouTube and other media to present their message. Gatherings of more than 10 people are discouraged by the nation’s medical community as a means of controlling the coronavirus outbreak.

By John R. Schirmer

and Louie Graves

News-Leader staff

Preachers delivered their messages in empty auditoriums Sunday morning.

Schools remain closed.

Grocery store shelves and dairy cases look as though a snow storm is imminent. Bread and milk are in short supply. Toilet paper can scarcely be found.

Restaurant dining rooms are closed as meal orders are placed in a drive-thru line or by phone.

Social distancing is the latest buzzword.

And, of course, there’s no baseball, softball, track, soccer or any other kind of athletic event.

That’s life in Nashville and throughout the rest of the nation in late March 2020 as efforts to control the coronavirus outbreak continue.

Through noon Tuesday, more than 200 confirmed cases of coronavirus had been reported in Arkansas by the state’s Department of Health. Howard County’s first confirmed case was reported Tuesday morning. There were none in Pike, Hempstead or Nevada counties at that time.

Last week, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced a number of measures aimed at fighting the mysterious disease.

He urged Arkansans to follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which discourage any public gatherings of more than 10 people. 

Hutchinson and other officials promoted social distancing and self-quarantining as a way to prevent the spread of coronavirus.


Arkansas schools remain closed through at least April 17. Sports are suspended as well.

The state’s public and private colleges will finish out the semester with online classes, and their graduations have been postponed or cancelled.

Nashville, Mineral Springs, Dierks and Murfreesboro join the rest of the state’s schools in the use of Alternate Methods of Instruction (AMI) assignments for students who are no longer in classrooms.

Teachers prepared AMI lessons relating to what they were doing in class and sent them to students last week. 

It’s hardly noticed anymore that spring break is underway this week.

AMI will continue from March 30 through at least April 17.

Nashville teachers will work March 30 in groups of 10 on another week of AMI assignments, Superintendent Doug Graham said Monday.

Some teachers will begin using Zoom videos as part of their AMI work.

Graham said Nashville High School prom is postponed from its original date of April 4. “We’re waiting to see if we are back in school or not,” he said.

No decision will be made on high school graduation “until we see what the virus does,” according to Graham.


A curfew has been declared in Nashville and in Howard County in order to halt possible spread of the coronavirus.

On Friday morning, Mayor Billy Ray Jones proclaimed a curfew from 

8:30 p.m. – 6 a.m. seven days a week until further notice. The curfew is for persons under the age of 18, although adults were suggested to also observe the curfew.

Police Chief Amy Marion said that there were possible exceptions for being out during those hours, such as work or medical emergencies. She said that city officers might stop vehicles during curfew hours.
Also on Friday Howard County Judge Kevin Smith issued an executive order for a similar curfew in the county. The curfew began Friday evening and continue until April 17.

A similar curfew is in effect in Pike County


Area churches cancelled their Sunday worship services and activities during the week at the recommendation of state and national health officials.

Auditoriums were closed Sunday morning, although many churches took advantage of radio and internet presentations of their services, minus any on-site congregants.

First United Methodist and Immanuel Baptist, both of Nashville, continued their usual Sunday morning radio broadcasts. The Methodist program was live on KNAS, 105.5, and included a second coronavirus update from Dr. John Hearnsberger. (See related story, page 5A.) Immanuel recorded a program for KMTB, 99.5, and also presented it on Facebook.

First Baptist used Facebook Live for a service similar to what worshipers have each Sunday. The church’s praise team offered four songs, and Pastor Kevin Sartin preached. The service is thought to have been the first live broadcast or livestream from First Baptist. The church’s services were once seen on KJEP television and heard on KNAS, but both presentations were recorded.

Churches in Dierks, Murfreesboro, Delight and other locations also used technology for their Sunday morning services.

The radio and internet programs likely will continue well beyond this coming Sunday.

Daily life

Some businesses and offices in the area remained open. Many posted restrictions on persons entering their buildings.

Some employees whose offices were closed worked from home.

The state ordered restaurants to close their dining rooms until further notice. Customers could place orders by phone or in drive-thru lines. (See related story, page 1A.)

Shelves where toilet paper is normally displayed were bare as the mysterious practice of hoarding the product continued. Paper towel and facial tissue were in short supply or non existent.

Snow storm staples bread and milk either disappeared or came close to disappearing as shoppers snatched them up in the early days of spring.

Numerous events around the area have been postponed or cancelled.

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