Emergency declaration expires as state continues vaccine push
Sunday marked the end of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s public health emergency declaration regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in the deaths of more than 5,800 Arkansans and continues to ravage the state despite increased vaccination protocols.
Last week, Hutchinson announced a number of incentives intended to help spur those who haven’t been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus to seek a vaccination, ranging from a chance to win a weekend at an Arkansas state park to a free lottery scratch-off ticket or a gift certificate that may be applied to a state hunting and fishing license.
Vaccines are now available to all adults and children as young as 12, but after the initial rush, vaccination rates have shown signs of slowing, a fact that sparked the announcement of incentives like those in use in other states, where residents are offered everything from drawings to win money or a dinner with the governor, prepaid grocery cards, or even a free beer.
The state has also launched a pair of multimillion-dollar ad campaigns to encourage people to get vaccinated.
“The fact that I’m ending the public health emergency should not diminish anyone’s intensity on the need to get a vaccination or the need to protect from the virus that is still remaining in parts of our communities,” Hutchinson said. “We are in a vaccination campaign, and that is our focus and it will remain our focus.”
More information on the COVID-19 vaccines and where to get one is available by calling the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Call Line at 1-800-985-6030.
According to Monday’s report from the Arkansas Department of Health, the state has received 2,622,010 combined doses of the various vaccines, with 1,977,952 — or 75.4 percent — already administered.
As of Monday, 903,021 Arkansans have been fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, while an additional 238,496 individuals have been partially vaccinated. When combined, those numbers represent approximately 48 percent of Arkansans aged 12 and older.
Monday’s ADH report indicated that the number of new cases of COVID-19 rose by 1,214 in the past week — down from last week’s increase of 1,343 — bringing the statewide total to 341,352. That total includes 266,671 lab-confirmed cases, 333,525 “recovered” cases and 5,832 deaths, including 114 in the past week.
There were 1,938 active cases reported in the state Monday, with 194 hospital admissions, 86 of which were in intensive care with 34 requiring the aid of a ventilator.
In Carroll County, the number of cases increased by one in the past week, bringing the total to 2,814, which includes 2,382 confirmed cases, 2,767 recoveries and one active case. The number of county residents who died from complications related to the virus remained at 46.