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Arkansas To Receive More Vaccines; Dr. Romero Warns Of Virus Variants

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Health Secretary Dr. José Romero and other state officials enter the governor's conference room at the state Capitol for Tuesday's coronavirus press conference.
Governor's Office

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday the state will receive a 5% increase in vaccines delivered, which is on top of the 16% increase announced last week. He also said Walmart will receive 10,000 doses beginning Feb. 11 to be distributed at more than 60 stores in the state.

In addition to an increased vaccine supply from the federal government, Gov. Hutchinson also said Tuesday during his weekly COVID-19 briefing he will not extend beyond Feb. 3 the 11 p.m. required closing of bars.

The news of more vaccines comes as the state continues to see a welcome decline in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The Arkansas Department of Health on Tuesday reported 1,510 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases, down from 2,485 reported the previous Tuesday. Cumulative confirmed and probable cases now total 298,004. There were 7,223 total tests in the previous 24 hours, below the 10,489 on the previous Tuesday. Active confirmed and probable cases fell by 334 to 16,331, well below the 18,158 on the previous Tuesday. Deaths rose by 44 to 4,939.

Hospitalizations fell by 20 to 869, also well below the 1,095 on the previous Tuesday. The ADH reported 93 available ICU beds as of 2 p.m. Tuesday, down from 106 on Monday.

The state has received 486,500 vaccines since federal distribution began Dec. 14, including 15,900 delivered within the past 24 hours. Vaccines administered in the previous 24 hours rose by 7,721 to 301,291, or 61.9% of vaccines received.

The federal program in which CVS and Walgreens are managing vaccinations in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities has received 49,400 vaccines since Dec. 28. Vaccines administered in the past 24 hours rose by 174 to 17,117, or 34.6% of vaccines received.

Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero cautioned Tuesday that “it’s not a time to back off” following health safety guidelines just because of the decline in cases and the increase in vaccinations. He said declines in hospitalizations are a result of the public wearing masks and following other health safety rules, more use of monoclonal antibodies that help minimize serious illness from the virus, and “now the beginning of our immunizations.”

Romero warned that the increase in COVID variants that are more easily transmissible and more deadly will hit the state.

“We don’t know that we have them (variants) yet here in Arkansas. I suspect they are. We just need to find them. But once they take hold they will become the dominant virus in our community. They spread easier and some of these from different parts of the world have some changes that allow them not to be responding appropriately to therapy,” Romero said.

New known COVID-19 cases, active cases, tests

Total confirmed and probable cases: 298,004, up 1,510
Total confirmed and probable active cases: 16,331, down 334
Total confirmed and probable deaths: 4,939, up 44
There were 4,638 test results provided in the previous 24 hours
There were 2,585 antigen tests in the previous 24 hours.

Hospitalizations: 869, down 20

Ventilators: 141, down 5

The top five counties with new known cases reported Tuesday were: Pulaski (247), Benton (127), Washington (85), Faulkner (72), and Saline (68). The counties accounted for 39.6% of the 1,510 new confirmed and probable cases.

As of Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., there were 26,377,125 U.S. cases and 445,030 deaths. Globally, there were 103,676,001 cases and 2,246,442 deaths.

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