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VIRUS OUTBREAK-ARKANSAS

Coronavirus deaths rise to six, cases to 426 in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The number of coronavirus deaths in Arkansas has risen by one to six and the number of cases is at least 426, up from 404. Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said Sunday that it is encouraging that the number of cases in the state is not rising as rapidly as in some parts of the country, such as New York City, but residents must continue doing things such as social distancing and limiting travel. Hutchinson said the number of hospitalizations due to the virus dropped from 48 on Saturday to 43 on Sunday.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-VIRUS FREE COUNTIES

Counties without coronavirus are mostly rural, poor

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — As the coronavirus rages through Europe, and major American cities like New York and Los Angeles, more than a third of counties across the U.S. still have not reported a positive test result for infection across what are predominantly rural areas. A data analysis by The Associated Press shows that 1,297 counties have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 out of 3,142 counties nationwide. Counties with zero positive tests for COVID-19 tend to have older, rural populations with lower incomes where rural health networks might be overwhelmed. The demographics hold major implications as the administration of President Donald Trump develops guidelines to rate counties by risk of virus spread, empowering local officials to revise social distancing orders

VIRUS OUTBREAK-STATE LEGISLATURES

Legislatures meet remotely, limit public as virus spreads

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Concerns about the coronavirus are changing the way democracy works in the U.S. In state capitols across the country, lawmakers have ditched decorum and sidestepped traditional public meeting requirements to abide by “social distancing" directives. More states have begun allowing lawmakers to send in their votes from home instead of showing up in House or Senate chambers to pass legislation responding to the virus outbreak. The Arkansas House moved its session to a college basketball arena to put more space between members. In many cases, the public can only watch or listen remotely by live-streaming.

WHITE SUPREMACIST GANG-ARKANSAS

Member of white supremacist gang in Arkansas sentenced

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas man has been sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for drug charges as part of a federal operation targeting white supremacist groups. A federal judge on Monday sentenced 34-year-old Joseph Pridmore to 150 months in prison and five years supervised release. Pridmore pleaded guilty in October to distributing methamphetamine. Prosecutors say Pridmore is a self-confessed member of the White Aryan Resistance. He was among dozens of white supremacist group members charged by federal prosecutors and the third sentenced in the operation.

PANHANDLING LAW-ARKANSAS

Judge upholds blocking Arkansas from restricting panhandlers

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that panhandlers in Arkansas are allowed to ask for money without being arrested, upending the state's 2017 anti-loitering law that opponents say unfairly targets panhandlers. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson on Thursday made permanent an order he issued in September 2017 that found the amended measure unconstitutional. The law expanded the definition of loitering to include anyone asking for charity or a gift in a harassing or threatening manner that’s likely to cause others alarm or create a traffic hazard. A federal appeals court last week returned the case to Wilson's jurisdiction.

LITTLE ROCK SCHOOLS

Lawsuit challenges state limits on Little Rock School Board

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A lawsuit has been filed challenging the limits Arkansas placed on the Little Rock School District when it returns to local control. The lawsuit was filed Friday by a Little Rock teacher, a parent and a member of the school board that was dissolved when the state took over the district administration in 2015. The state board last year voted to return district control to a nine-member board to be elected in November. But that plan includes some limits on the local board's powers. The lawsuit contends that the state overstepped its authority with those limits.