LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday that active cases of COVID-19 continue to decline in Arkansas, keeping the state below projections issued earlier this summer.
In a news conference from the capitol, Hutchinson announced that the number of active cases dropped by 779 to 14,225. In total, the state reported 1,401 new cases Tuesday, moving the pandemic total to 486,853.
Hospitalizations from the virus continue to hover around the 1,000 mark, falling 34 Tuesday to 993. The number of patients on ventilators also declined by 11 to 278.
The data from the Arkansas Department of Health also showed 17 new reports of deaths from the virus, bringing the state total to 7,499.
Hutchinson noted that the actual case data the state is seeing is trending lower than projections shared by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Vaccinations efforts remained consistent in the latest report, with the state showing 7,228 new doses administered in the last 24 hours. The number of Arkansans fully immunized against COVID-19 increased by 4,828 to 1,312,459. Another 301,069 people in the state are partially immunized.
The governor also continued to champion the use of monoclonal antibody treatments to fight the virus., noting that there were only nine counties in the state where these treatments were not available. He also noted there was no shortage of these treatments in the state.
State Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero noted that vaccination efforts in younger patients are continuing, showing that 48.1 percent of Arkansans 12-18 years old have at least one dose of the vaccine, with 36.6 percent being fully vaccinated.
Romero also stressed the need for people to seek out a flu vaccine, noting that after two light years of flu cases the illness could come back strong this season.
Secretary of Education Johnny Key announced that the number of cases in schools was down to around 500, with only one district, Greenbrier, currently having modified class plans due to cases.
Hutchinson said his team is still looking for further guidance on how booster shots will be rolled out in Arkansas following the FDA announcement of this treatment, but only for those over 65 years of age or with other certain health risks.
The governor kicked off the news conference asking Arkansans to consider giving blood, noting that the American Red Cross was still seeing lower than normal levels of blood donation that has become the norm during the pandemic. At the same time, the need for blood has seen an increase due to hospitalizations and other circumstances like the recent hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast.
Wrapping up the news conference answering reporter questions, Hutchinson said he was looking ahead to the planned legislative session to address redistricting but was also expecting to call a special session to discuss tax cuts. He also answered questions on how many Afghan refugees Arkansas would see. Hutchinson estimated that there would be around 49 in areas of northwest Arkansas, with the same number in central Arkansas. He said much of the response to needs from the refugees would be handled by Catholic Charities in the Little Rock area and Canopy in northwest Arkansas.