Hutchinson warns against complacency on vaccines

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday continued to encourage Arkansas residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 saying, the state’s vaccination efforts were being hampered not only by vaccine hesitancy, but also by complacency.

“We want to emphasize that we have vaccines available in Arkansas,” said Hutchinson, speaking during his weekly news conference in Little Rock. “The supply is not a problem We have vaccines available right now.”

Instead, he pointed to what he described as a growing sense of complacency in the state.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson

“We have a challenge with vaccine hesitancy,” Hutchinson said. “And I think that hesitancy in Arkansas is partly because of the threat is perceived as being down as new cases go down, hospitalizations go down, as you see people relaxing and trying to lead a more normal life. The threat is not with us every day, and so the urgency of getting a vaccine has been diminished.”

According to Tuesday’s report from the Arkansas Department of Health, the state has received 2,468,010 combined doses of the various vaccines, with 1,646,751 — or 66.7 percent — already administered.

As of Tuesday’s report, 697,096 Arkansans have been fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, while an additional 306,145 individuals are partially vaccinated.

Hutchinson has said previously that guidance from health officials has suggested that vaccination numbers would likely need to reach as high 70 percent for “herd immunity” to take effect. On Tuesday, the percentage of Arkansans aged 16 and older who have been fully vaccinated stood at approximately 29 percent.

“We want to call upon our employers to provide leadership,” Hutchinson said. “They’ve done a good job, but we want you to continue in the fight. We want you to provide time off as necessary for an employee to get the vaccine. We want you to provide education to the workers as to the importance of it and then give them access to it and either bring a clinic to your work site for the easy vaccination of workers or to give them the opportunity to go to a local pharmacy and get the vaccination.”

Tuesday’s ADH report indicated that the number of new cases of COVID-19 rose by

1,289 in the past week, bringing the statewide total to 334,998, including 262,428 lab-confirmed cases, 327,373 “recovered” cases and 5,725 deaths.

There were nearly 190 active cases reported in the state, with 157 hospital admissions, 70 of which were in intensive care with 26 requiring the aid of a ventilator.

In Carroll County, the number of cases grew by 20 in the past week — more than double the number of new cases from the previous week — bringing the total to 2,792, which includes 2,365 confirmed cases, 2,729 “recoveries, 18 active cases and 45 deaths.

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