COVID-19 in Arkansas: Gov. Hutchinson stresses growth in vaccinations as active cases climb

Coronavirus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Gov. Asa Hutchinson said COVID-19 vaccinations were on the rise in Arkansas, though active case numbers and hospitalizations were also increasing.

Holding his weekly news briefing Tuesday, Hutchinson showed that 17,052 vaccinations had been administered in the prior 24 hours.

A big part of those jumps in vaccinations are boosters, with 34.4% or state residents older than 65 having received their extra dose and 16.1 of residents 55-64 having been boosted.

Currently there are 1,460,971 Arkansans fully immunized against the virus, with another 333,328 having partial immunity.

While it is positive the vaccinations are increasing, Hutchinson also noted the state was seeing a jump in the active case count, which was up by more than 1,700 cases week to week

As of Tuesday, there were 7,414 active cases in Arkansas, up 249 from Monday. The new case moved up 932 to 534,590. There were also 24 deaths added to the state total, which now sits at 8,776.

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 around Arkansas saw a slight uptick in the last 24 hours, increasing by four to 456. Six more patients were put on ventilators around the state, moving that number to 85.

State Health Secretary Dr. Jose said there had been no cases of the omicron variant of the virus detected in Arkansas. He stressed the need to continue booster vaccinations efforts, especially among the state’s older populations.

Romero also noted that Arkansas was falling behind the national average for vaccinations for 5 to 11-year-olds. Education Secretary Johnny Key said his department was rolling out a new guidebook for families to answer questions about youth vaccinations. These were sent to schools last week.

UPDATE ON THE SPECIAL SESSION

Hutchinson said he thought that the special session, which got underway earlier in the day, was off to a good start. He said he thought that it would stay focused on topics for which he called it and that other proposed legislative efforts would hold off until future sessions.

The governor did say he respected a push to increase pay for law enforcement but said a proposed tax credit for officers would not be the answer.

He noted that lowering overall taxes would help everyone in the economy and said that he was looking at plans to boost pay for Arkansas State Police personnel.

While he said the state stepping in to force local law enforcement agencies to increase pay would be an overreach of authority, he noted the state could look at ways to support local municipalities and counties in funding those efforts.

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