Michael Tilley/ Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration building in Little Rock.
KUAR News

Arkansas ended fiscal year 2021 with a revenue surplus of $945.7 million thanks in part to a COVID-19 induced shift in a tax filing deadline from April to July that pushed some of fiscal 2020 income tax payments into 2021.

The state’s tax revenue surplus in the previous two fiscal years totals $1.315 billion.

The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) reported Friday that gross revenue for fiscal year 2021 (July 2020 to June 2021) is $8.121 billion, up 16.6% compared with the previous fiscal year and up 18.2% over the budget forecast.

J. William Fulbright
Clinton Steeds / Flickr

University of Arkansas Chancellor Dr. Joseph Steinmetz supports the move to rename a main dining hall on the campus and relocate a statue of former U.S. Sen. William Fulbright, but opposes renaming the university’s Fulbright College of Art and Sciences.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson asked employers on Tuesday to help make the vaccine accessible to everyone.
Governor's Office / YouTube

With the more easily transmissible and more deadly UK variant of COVID-19 becoming more prevalent in Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson is again asking state residents to get vaccinated and encouraged employers to make vaccines available in the workplace.

Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said Tuesday during the weekly COVID briefing there has been a “three-fold” increase in the UK variant among the limited amount of variant testing conducted on those who test positive.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson urged Arkansans on Tuesday to still get the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines despite Johnson and Johnson distribution pause.
Governor's Office / YouTube

With a “worrisome point” worth watching being a recent rise in hospitalizations, Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday (April 20) said state officials’ focus is to increase COVID-19 vaccine demand to avoid the “jeopardy” of cases rising again later this year.

COVID-related hospitalizations totaled 177 in Tuesday’s report, up 13 from the previous 24 hours, and up from the 148 on the previous Tuesday. The governor called the number of hospitalizations a “worrisome point” that he and other state officials are monitoring.

Michelle Smith, director of the Arkansas Department of Health Office of Health Equity and HIV Elimination, discussed vaccine distribution in minority communities Tuesday.
Governor's Office / YouTube

Arkansas health officials are focused on boosting vaccine numbers ahead of any rise in COVID-19 variants, getting more vaccines to minority groups, and overcoming vaccine “resistance,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday (April 6) during his weekly COVID briefing.

“We have to overcome resistance. We have to overcome the challenges of a rural state,” the governor said.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday the statewide mask mandate will be lifted, and people aged 16 or older are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Governor's Office / YouTube

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday (March 30) lifted the statewide mask mandate even as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged governors to not lift such restrictions. Gov. Hutchinson also on Tuesday opened vaccine eligibility to all Arkansans age 16 and older.

“It is an appropriate time to lift the statewide mask mandate,” Gov. Hutchinson said, noting that the criteria of having fewer than 750 COVID-19 hospitalizations has been met.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday he is expanding vaccine eligibility to all Arkansans in category 1-C.
Governor's Office / YouTube

With around 10% of Arkansans being fully vaccinated and a push by the Biden administration to open vaccine access, Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday expanded eligibility an estimated 1.2 million Arkansans in the 1c category.

There are an estimated 2.131 million Arkansans now eligible – total in categories 1a-c – to receive the vaccine, according to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). The state’s population is about 3.018 million according to the latest estimate from the U.S. Census.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday he is expanding who is eligible to receive be vaccinated for COVID-19.
Governor's Office / YouTube

With more than 1 million vaccines received in Arkansas and more than 650,000 Arkansans receiving at least one dose, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday (March 2) he is expanding vaccine eligibility to an estimated 49,000 food manufacturing workers.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaking to reporters Tuesday during his weekly press briefing on the pandemic.
Governor's Office / YouTube

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences COVID-19 modeling update suggests virus variants could result in more hospitalizations and deaths. Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero is not convinced the modeling is correct, and said the state’s focus will remain on wearing masks, washing hands, maintaining distance and getting vaccines distributed as fast as possible.

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 / YouTube

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.

Lines of cars with people being tested for COVID-19 stream through a garage at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences on July 13, 2020. On Monday, hospitalizations reached a new high.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The overall trend of fewer new and active cases continued Wednesday with the Arkansas Department of Health reporting double-digit declines in hospitalizations and ventilator use. Deaths, however, rose by 52 to 4,742.

Stock Photo

Arkansas employers added more than 65,000 jobs between November and December, pushing the state’s jobless rate down from 6.3% in November to 4.2% in December, according to Tuesday’s report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of employed in Arkansas during December was an estimated 1,303,673, down 12,396 jobs compared with December 2019. The year-over-year job losses are down considerably compared to the 78,011 jobs between November 2019 and November 2020.

In this file photo, one dose of the vaccine is shown during a press conference Monday at the Arkansas Department of Health.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday he had an “optimistic” call with the White House COVID-19 coordinator on receiving more vaccines, saying that a consistent and increasing supply is needed for more efficient vaccine distribution.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson shows a graph during Tuesday's press conference indicating a downward trend Arkansas has seen in recent days.
Governor's Office / YouTube

On a day U.S. COVID-19 deaths topped 400,000, new confirmed and probable cases in Arkansas continued a downward trend with 1,331 cases reported Tuesday, well below the 3,209 reported the previous Tuesday.

The Arkansas Department of Health also reported that confirmed and active cases fell by 1,854 to 20,940. Unfortunately, deaths rose by 43 to 4,386. The ADH also reported 50 available ICU beds as of 2 p.m. Tuesday, down from 57 on Monday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson shows a report detailing plans for vaccinating Arkansans while Col. Robert Ator, who will serve as project manager, looks on.
Governor's Office / YouTube

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday said the state will accelerate vaccine availability for older Arkansans and those in education. The updated vaccine push comes as University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences modeling predicts more than 5,000 COVID-19 deaths by Feb. 28.

Lines of cars with people being tested for COVID-19 stream through a garage at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences on July 13, 2020. On Monday, hospitalizations reached a new high.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

COVID-19 hospitalizations again set a new daily record in Monday’s Arkansas Department of Health report, rising by 62 to 1,296. Available ICU beds fell from 58 on Sunday to 49 on Monday. COVID deaths reached 3,800.

Also on Monday, Northwest Arkansas hospitals reported reaching a record of 128 patients in their COVID-19 units. The previous record was 122. The region has been one of the hardest hit in the state by the pandemic.

Governor's Office / YouTube

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson said the Little Rock hospital is adding new emergency department space in an adjacent parking deck and may double up patients in single rooms in response to the growing number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (at the podium) speaks with reporters during Tuesday's COVID-19 press briefing.
Governor's Office / YouTube

With hospitalizations and deaths continuing to set new daily records, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he is “not satisfied with the pace” of vaccinations in the state. He also warned that the state’s hospitals will be further stressed with infections from Christmas and New Year gatherings.

Corona
U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Available ICU beds in Arkansas fell in Friday’s report to 37, down from 46 on Thursday and well below the 73 on Tuesday, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. Total cumulative known confirmed and probable cases rose by 2,878 to 197,421, and confirmed and probable active cases rose by 733 to 22,392. Total deaths rose by 27 to 3,139.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaking during a Thursday evening address concerning the coronavirus.
Arkansas PBS

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday used his first primetime television address while in the state’s top office to essentially repeat pleas for Arkansans to wear masks, follow other health safety rules, and be smart about holiday gatherings.

Baptist Health CEO Troy Wells speaks at the state's weekly COVID-19 press briefing on Tuesday.
Governor's Office

With hospitalizations continuing to set new daily records, Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday discussed changes to the state’s trauma system to coordinate COVID-19 care, and efforts to expedite bringing teachers into the state’s beleaguered public schools.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The hits just keep coming. COVID-19 hospitalizations and patients on ventilators again set new daily records in Monday’s report from the Arkansas Department of Health. Total cases and deaths rose 38.5% and 26%, respectively, between Nov. 2 and Nov. 30.

ADH numbers show 1,063 hospitalizations in Monday’s report, a new record and up 33 over the daily record set Sunday. COVID-19 patients on ventilators rose by 16 to a new record of 201. Total cumulative known confirmed and probable cases increased Monday by 1,112 to 157,359. Total deaths rose by 32 to 2,502.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson answering a question from a reporter at Tuesday's press briefing.
Governor's Office

It’s not a pretty picture. Updated University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences COVID-19 modeling suggests the virus will hit the state harder before it, ideally, relents. Apathy and COVID fatigue are primary causes of “increasing pressure” on hospitals, according to UAMS.

“Taking all statistics presented in this report as a whole, we conclude COVID-19 in Arkansas has entered a phase of community spread in which the virus is so prevalent it can no longer be associated with a person or a place,” noted the UAMS report posted Tuesday.

Corona
U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

That last call for alcohol will come earlier beginning Friday with Gov. Asa Hutchinson announcing Thursday an 11 p.m. closing time for bars and other businesses that sell “on-premise” alcohol. The early close time will continue each day through Jan. 3.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, seen here last October.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A letter signed by more than 270 Arkansas doctors asks Gov. Asa Hutchinson to do more to stop the “unchecked” COVID-19 spread, with part of the request recommending the closing of bars and gyms, while limiting restaurants to take-out only.

The letter said the state’s medical system will be “greatly compromised” if the recent spike in cases is not reversed.

Corona
U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

With daily COVID-19 cases topping 2,000 for the first time, Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday (Nov. 13) announced a “winter task force” to focus on hospital resources and workers. Business restrictions and statewide school closings, however, are still opposed by Gov. Hutchinson.

New daily COVID-19 cases again topped 1,000 in Thursday’s report, and the number of public school districts in “red zones” rose to 42, up from 26 a week earlier, according to the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI).

Gov. Asa Hutchinson showing a graph during Tuesday's press briefing showing hospitalizations reached an all-time high in the state.
Governor's Office

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday that the COVID-19 outbreak in the White House has caused Arkansans to be more serious about the virus and has encouraged Arkansans to “never forget the virus that continues to be part of this emergency and the reason for it.”

Lines of cars go through a triage center Monday at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock for people to be tested for the coronavirus. A spokeswoman says the average wait time has been three to four hours, with about 500 people tes
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

New COVID-19 modeling from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences estimates daily infections will be “significantly lower” by Oct. 6 if public schools open with virtual learning only. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said schools will open Aug. 24 with in-class instruction.

The modeling update based on numbers as of Aug. 14, predicts 3,000 new daily infections by Oct. 6 with virtual learning only, 5,500 daily infections with a hybrid of virtual and in-class instruction, and 8,000 daily infections if all classes are in person.

A panel of those who spoke at a meeting of the state’s Education Caucus answered questions from lawmakers about the coronavirus and its impact on the upcoming school year, which is set to begin in less that two weeks.
Sarah Kellogg / KUAR News

Objections to opening schools with in-class instruction from Arkansas teachers of the year and the Arkansas Education Association are not moving Gov. Asa Hutchinson from his stance on the Aug. 24 opening of all public schools.

Arkansas Education Association President Carol Fleming on Monday told state lawmakers she believes it is not safe for schools to open to in-class instruction. She said schools should open the 2020-2021 school year with virtual learning only.

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