With the more easily transmissible and more deadly UK variant of COVID-19 becoming more prevalent in Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson is again asking state residents to get vaccinated and encouraged employers to make vaccines available in the workplace.
Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said Tuesday (April 27) during the weekly COVID briefing there has been a “three-fold” increase in the UK variant among the limited amount of variant testing conducted on those who test positive.
“This is only the tip of the iceberg because we’re only sequencing a small, a very, very small (number) of the people that are sick,” Romero said.
Gov. Hutchinson said state officials continue to see vaccine hesitancy “partly because the threat is perceived as being down.” He said he has challenged The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) to do more to get the vaccine to rural areas and harder-to-reach populations. He also wants to see vaccines made available at baseball games, shopping malls, schools and other areas where people gather. He also called on employers to do more to encourage employees to get the vaccine, including holding vaccine clinics at the workplace
“We need employer leadership as we continue to fight this battle,” he said.
When asked about the vaccine percentage he hopes to reach, Gov. Hutchinson said epidemiologists say 70% provides herd immunity. But he said that percentage will not happen soon in Arkansas because of vaccine hesitancy.
“It’s going to be a challenge for us to get there in the short term,” Gov. Hutchinson said.
Arkansas has received 2,494,780 vaccines since Dec. 14, including 26,770 in the previous 24 hours. Of that, 1,661,921 doses have been administered, or 66.6% of vaccines received, according to the ADH. The state reports 15,170 vaccines administered in the past 24 hours. The department also reports 301,388 Arkansans are partially immunized and 707,072 are fully immunized, or 23.5% of the state population.
Gov. Hutchinson said there is plenty of vaccine available in the state. As of April 26, the ADH reported an inventory of 358,000 Pfizer doses, 288,000 Moderna doses and 70,000 Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) doses.
COVID REPORT – April 27
New known COVID-19 cases, active cases, tests
• Total confirmed and probable cases: 334,998, up 229
• Total confirmed and probable active cases: 1,844, up 39
• Total confirmed and probable deaths: 5,725, up 5
157, down 13
26, down 1
As of Tuesday at 2 p.m., there were 32,143,298 U.S. cases and 572,945 deaths. Globally, there were 148,097,788 cases and 3,125,150 deaths.