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Arkansas Sees Largest Spike In COVID-19 Hospitalizations Since January

Governor's Office

The highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to grow in Arkansas, resulting in a new surge in coronavirus hospitalizations.

The state added another 270 cases of COVID-19 Tuesday while another six Arkansans died from the disease caused by the coronavirus. The state currently has 4,645 active cases of COVID-19.

In his weekly press briefing, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the number of Arkansans hospitalized also grew dramatically.

“This is the largest increase in hospitalizations since January. It is the largest increase in hospitalizations since we’ve had the vaccination available to prevent hospitalizations. And we have 55 added to the hospital rolls as a result of COVID-19,” Hutchinson said.

As of Tuesday, 416 Arkansans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. Hutchinson says the demographics of those hospitalized with the virus have also shifted since the onset of the pandemic.

“Back in November, the average age was 63, almost 64… it started dropping when the vaccines were out and were being administered in our nursing homes and to our elderly populations. And it gradually decreased where the average age is 10 years lower on May 21st,” Hutchinson said.

Credit Governor's Office / YouTube
A graph displays the percentage of variants of COVID-19 present in Arkansas.

Hutchinson says he’s directed employers to offer paid leave to employees to get the coronavirus vaccine. Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero stressed the importance of adults getting vaccinated to help protect younger populations who aren’t eligible to get the shot.

“The Delta variant is penetrating into our childhood population. We cannot vaccinate our children at this point, because we do not have a vaccine for them. The only way to protect them is to protect them by immunizing yourself and having a cocoon around them that doesn’t allow the virus to reach them,” Romero said.

Romero says more than half of all new COVID-19 cases in Arkansas last week were the result of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

The governor also announced a series of town hall conversations aimed at combatting vaccine hesitancy. The first is set for Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Veterans Park Event Center in Cabot.

Daniel Breen is a Little Rock-based reporter, anchor and producer for KUAR.
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