Noting “broad swaths of progress” in distributing vaccines in the state, Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday (Feb. 23) announced that those 65 to 69 in age are now eligible to receive the vaccine. Lowering the age from 70 to 65 provides vaccine access to about 115,000 more Arkansans.
“We want to keep the demand for our vaccinations active. We want to make sure that as we make progress with 70-plus that we keep the lines filled and moving into 65-plus makes sense,” Gov. Hutchinson said, adding that the eligibility expansion does not mean that most above age 70 have received both doses.
In fact, Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero reported that the Arkansas Department of Health estimates that just 14% of those 70 and older have received both vaccine doses.
The state has received 794,230 vaccines since federal distribution began Dec. 14, including 102,705 received in the previous 24 hours. Vaccines administered in the previous 24 hours rose by 13,702 to 500,914, or 63.1% of vaccines received. The federal program in which CVS and Walgreens are managing vaccinations in nursing homes and other long term care facilities has received 61,000 vaccines since Dec. 28. Vaccines administered in the past 24 hours rose by 1,537 to 33,565, or 55% of vaccines received.
The governor declined to estimate when eligibility would expand to other groups, saying it will depend on supply. That supply is improving, with Gov. Hutchinson saying he was notified Tuesday by federal officials the state would receive 4,000 additional doses a week during the next three weeks.
Vaccine eligibility could also expand sooner if a Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to give the vaccine an emergency use authorization this weekend. Johnson & Johnson execs have said they could provide 20 million doses by the end of March. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is considered a little less effective than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines now in use, but only requires a single does.
COVID REPORT – Feb. 23
New known COVID-19 cases, active cases, tests
• Total confirmed and probable cases: 316,593, up 834
• Total confirmed and probable active cases: 4,807, down 92
• Total confirmed and probable deaths: 5,377, up 14
• There were 2,496 test results provided in the previous 24 hours.
• There were 2,101 antigen tests in the previous 24 hours.
545, down 43
99, down 10
The top six counties with new known cases reported Tuesday were: Benton (165), Pulaski (101), Washington (59), Garland (39), and Faulkner and Lonoke at 33 each. The counties accounted for 51.5% of the 834 new confirmed and probable cases.
As of Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., there were 28,221,129 U.S. cases and 501,663 deaths. Globally, there were 111,951,961 cases and 2,480,465 deaths.