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Effectively immediately, Jonesboro parks will be open for trail use only, Mayor Harold Perrin announced Friday afternoon.
Other facilities, including playgrounds, pavilions and the remainder of the city’s 20 parks, will be closed until further notice as the City works to deter the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Other cities around the state have already closed their parks entirely,” Perrin said. “And I hate to do it because one of the CDC best practices is getting exercise. But I saw the crowds gathered at Craighead Forest Park on Thursday with my own eyes.
“We received many calls and emails about it, and even when confronted by park officials, many people refused to disperse. That is irresponsible, and disrespectful to the people using the parks appropriately.”
Perrin said this weekend will be a measure of whether a decision to close the parks entirely.
“If people don’t obey the governor’s mandate, we will have no choice but to close even the trails,” he said.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s mandate limiting public gatherings to 10 people or less went into effect Friday. Prior to that, the governor and Perrin had recommended the limit. Now it is law that the Jonesboro Police Department will enforce.
“I would hope people will be responsible enough that we don’t have to write any citations,” JPD Chief Rick Elliott said. “But we will do what has to be done to protect our community.”
Also on Friday, Perrin called state Department of Health and local hospital officials to try to understand why official statistics regarding Jonesboro and Craighead County did not change this week.
“We’ve been told four of 10 cases reported to the Arkansas Department of Health have tested positive,” Perrin said. “But our hospital officials tell us they have been sending test kits to labs for three weeks, and from what I understand, the numbers reach into the hundreds.
“Because the labs are overwhelmed with tests that need to be run from all over the state, the delay in early results has been significant. I have been assured that more labs are coming online and all our tests will be processed soon. I am eager to see that happen.”