Gov. Asa Hutchinson wants more than 50% of Arkansans to receive at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose by early August, and state officials will pursue the goal by using pop-up vaccine clinics at festivals, malls, rodeos, graduations and other events where people gather in large numbers.
The vaccine push comes as COVID cases and hospitalizations have seen slight increases in recent days. The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) reported Tuesday 2,043 active cases, an increase of 104, and 192 hospitalizations, a rise of 20.
President Joe Biden also announced Tuesday a goal of vaccinating 70% of all adults by July 4.
As of Tuesday, the ADH reported 1,038,556 Arkansans have received at least one shot, which is 34% of the population. To meet the 50% goal, another 467,206 Arkansans will need to receive at least one shot. Gov. Hutchinson said the effort is “a very critical goal” because the state is seeing more of the UK variant which is highly transmissible and results in higher rates of death. The variant was in 12 counties on March 3, and rose to being in 29 counties on May 3.
The governor also said each county will have a “specific numeric goal” to reach at least 50% vaccinated in the county. Among the more densely populated counties, Pulaski will need to vaccinate 16.4% to reach 50%, Benton will need to vaccinate 19.5%, Washington will need 19.6%, Sebastian will need 30.9%, and Craighead will need 20.9%.
“We’re going to have to work hard. It’s going to be a big challenge for us. … We’re going to have to pick up our rate of vaccination,” Gov. Hutchinson said Tuesday during his weekly COVID press briefing.
He also said the briefing will be his last weekly COVID update and he will provide future updates as needed.
Some of the pop-up vaccine clinic sites include May 9 at the Central Mall Food Court in Fort Smith, the May 15 Arkansas Made-Arkansas Proud craft fair at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, and at least eight high school graduations at War Memorial between May 13-26. The ADH plans to work with health care partners to target more than 600 events for the clinics, including the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, firework shows, rodeos, and livestock auctions. (Follow this link for more information about the ADH vaccine clinics.)
COVID REPORT – May 4
New known COVID-19 cases, active cases, tests
• Total confirmed and probable cases: 336,462, up 296
• Total confirmed and probable active cases: 2,043, up 104
• Total confirmed and probable deaths: 5,752, up 5
192, up 20
28, down 1
As of Tuesday at 2 p.m., there were 32,489,058 U.S. cases and 577,845 deaths. Globally, there were 153,773,158 cases and 3,217,512 deaths.