Governor, health secretary push boosters as cases rise

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, along with the state’s top public health official, is continuing to encourage all Arkansas residents to receive a COVID-19 vaccination or booster.

Active cases of the novel coronavirus continue to increase across the state, with the Arkansas Department of Health reporting 8,085 Monday — up 530 from last week’s total — while in Carroll County, the number of active cases dropped by one, with 59 reported active cases.

Last week, Hutchinson noted that vaccinations continue to increase across the state, with 17,000 new vaccinations added in one 24-hour period.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson

At the same time, he stressed the importance of boosters.

“Booster doses are important for increasing immunity, so as cases continue to increase, we are seeing more breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals who have not received a booster dose,” Hutchinson said.

Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero also stressed the importance of getting the booster shot, encouraging those 65 and older to do so if they haven’t yet, and encouraged parents to vaccinate children from 5-11 years old.

According to Romero, Arkansas is 5-6 percent behind the national average in that age group.

The age group with the most active cases in the state is 65-and-over with 1,269, followed by 25- to 34-year-olds with 1,225, and 35-44 with 1,085.

Children under the age of 18 account for 1,838 — or 22.7 percent — of the state’s active cases.

According to Monday’s report from the state health department, Arkansas saw an increase of 5,070 new cases of the novel coronavirus — down slightly from the 5,769 new cases reported the previous week — since Dec. 6, bringing the total to 538,426 cases. That number includes 521,329 cases described as “recoveries.”

Case numbers in Arkansas have risen steadily since July 31, when there were 380,625 reported cases. Since Oct. 4, the number of cases in Arkansas has increased by 40,364.

In Carroll County, the total number of reported cases increased by 80 since last week, rising to 4,483 with 4,346 reported recoveries.

Meanwhile, the local death toll from the novel coronavirus remained at 78 — three additional deaths attributed to complications from COVID-19 were reported last week — including more than 30 deaths in the past five months.

Statewide, the death toll rose to 8,848 over the past week, an increase of 195 Arkansans since last week and 329 in the past 21 days.

Monday’s report indicated a seven-day increase in COVID-positive hospital admissions — 486, up 54 from last week’s 432 and 103 more than two weeks ago — accompanied by an increase in ICU admissions at 214, up from 177 last week. More than 50 percent of those patients in ICU beds — 108 — have been placed on ventilators.

Since Feb. 1, more than 90 percent of those hospitalized in the state — along with a similar percentage of those whose deaths were attributed to the virus since that time — were not vaccinated.

Since the pandemic began, hospitalizations related to the virus have included 956 children under the age of 18, an increase of 11 in the past week, including 124 ICU admissions.

More than 95 percent of those pediatric cases since Feb. 1 were among children 12-18 who were not vaccinated against the virus.

On the vaccination front, Monday’s numbers from the state health department show that 1,456,859 Arkansans have been fully vaccinated against the virus — an increase of 18,270 in the past week — while an additional 336,083 have been partially vaccinated.

Combined, those numbers account for approximately 63.7 percent of Arkansans aged 5 and older. In addition, 360,690 vaccinated individuals have already received their third-dose booster.

In Carroll County, the ADH reported Monday that an additional 579 doses of the various vaccines — up from last week’s total of 479 doses — were administered in the past week, bringing the total to 27,673 and setting the percentage of county residents who are fully vaccinated against the virus at 45 percent. An additional 9.2 percent have been partially immunized.

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