Pastor, wife, and congregation part of 27 positive COVID-19 cases in Cleburne County

CLEBURNE COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — According to Mark Palenske who is the pastor of Greer’s Ferry First Assembly, a church in Cleburne County, he and his wife have tested positive for COVID-19, along with 24 others in his congregation.

“Our primary symptom at this juncture is a lingering nausea that keeps us wanting stillness and very small amounts of food,” Pastor Mark Palenske said on the church’s Facebook page. 

“Thus far, we have 26 people connected to the church who have tested positive for Covid-19 and at least 16 more who have been tested and are waiting for results. Five of those 26 have been admitted to the hospital (including Dena, earlier in the week) and one more is being transported as I write.”

Palenske said it’s been 12 days since he and Dena first began feeling the symptoms.

At this time, the Arkansas Department of Health is reporting a total of 27 positive cases in Cleburne County, with all but one stemming from Palenske’s church.

Palenske went on to say, “the intensity of this virus has been underestimated by so many, and I continue to ask that each of you take it very seriously. An act of wisdom and restraint on your part can be the blessing that preserves the health of someone else.”

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Key facts to know about coronavirus in Arkansas as of March 23:

  • 197 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas 
  • 1,128 total tests
  • 931 negative test results
  • All public schools are closed until April 17
  • All restaurants and bars are directed to operate under carry-out and to-go options only “until further notice.”