Tiny Arkansas town records first COVID death as virus shuts City Hall

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TYRONZA, Ark. — Tyronza, Arkansas is in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak, the town’s mayor says.

Tyronza Mayor Charles Glover says Arkansas Department of Health statistics through Oct. 19 show the town had between 20 and 29 cases, but he says in last week there has been an uptick in the number of cases and now, one death.

According to the 2010 census, only 762 people live in Tyronza. The town’s only convenience store was destroyed by a tornado a year ago and hasn’t been rebuilt.

According to the mayor, the man who died was in his 70s, had “a lot of other health problems,” got tested on Monday and by Wednesday morning had trouble breathing. An ambulance was called but the man did not make it.

The uptick in positive cases has been felt across this small Poinsett County community, closing everything including the town’s only cafe, where Crystal Jones works.

“We were all so careful and now it’s backfired on us,” Jones said. “I went and got a flu shot last Tuesday and started getting sick, and I went Thursday and got tested and came back positive Sunday for COVID.”

Jones said she has a large family in the area, and most of them are sick. Her uncle died Wednesday of COVID- type symptoms, she said.

His was the town’s first death related to the virus.

“He just got sick, he was staying at home and we got the phone call yesterday morning that the ambulance had come and gotten him and he had passed away,” Jones said.

Glover said the city treasurer/recorder tested positive, so City Hall is closed down and a commercial cleaning crew is coming this afternoon to clean and disinfect it.

People can still pay their water bills by dropping a payment in a drop box at City Hall. Glover said one city employee in the water department contracted COVID back in May.

Two police officers have tested negative and he is waiting on results for three other city employees.

Tyronza Elementary has switched to virtual learning for pre-k and grades 3-6 after a high number of staff and students were placed on quarantine.

There is no mask mandate in Tyronza but the mayor stressed that people need to be careful and observe CDC guidelines. Halloween “Trunk or Treat” has been cancelled.

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