Arkansas COVID-19

Reports and programming on coronavirus disease 2019 and its impact on Arkansas.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson walks into a press conference Monday where he announced his veto of legislation that would prohibit gender transition procedures from being performed on people under the age of 18. Lawmakers overrode the governor's veto Tuesday.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Monday he planned to meet with House and Senate leaders about growing calls to allow schools to require face masks as the state reported 23 more deaths from COVID-19.

The Republican governor said he planned to discuss the issue Tuesday with the GOP leaders of the state House and Senate, following calls from Democratic lawmakers and others to lift a state law banning mask mandates by state and local governments.

Cam Patterson UAMS
UAMS

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences on Monday said it’s reached a new peak of COVID-19 patients at its hospital as a surge in coronavirus cases continued in the state.

UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson tweeted that the hospital had 66 COVID-19 patients, surpassing the record it reached in January when it had 63.

The Department of Health said the number of people hospitalized statewide with COVID-19 rose by 44 on Sunday to 919. The state’s COVID-19 cases rose by 1,022 and its deaths increased by six.

CNN

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says it will be up to the Arkansas General Assembly to decide whether to repeal a facemask ban in schools. It comes as parents are fearing for the safety of their children with the new academic year starting in a few weeks.

UAMS Medical Assistant Latondra Ford sticks a swab deep into the nose of a North Little Rock Police officer being tested for the coronavirus.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas’ coronavirus cases rose by nearly 2,000 on Friday as the state’s COVID-19 surge prompted the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to scale back its hospital visitor policy.

The Department of Health said the state’s virus cases rose by 1,987 to 372,313 total since the pandemic began. The state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations rose by 22 to 871, with 328 in intensive care and 159 on ventilators.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

As U.S. regulators weigh giving the final stamp of approval for certain COVID-19 vaccines, governors in states hard hit by the pandemic hope the move will help persuade the many holdouts in their states to finally get the shot.

The governors of Arkansas and Ohio — where cases and hospitalizations are climbing — have appealed publicly in recent days for full approval, saying it would help combat vaccine hesitancy and could also clear the way for more businesses to require their employees to be inoculated.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A group of Democratic lawmakers in Arkansas, which has the nation’s highest COVID-19 rate, urged the governor and Republicans who control the Legislature on Thursday to lift the state’s ban on schools and government entities requiring people to wear masks.

The lawmakers from Little Rock and surrounding Pulaski County asked Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson to call a special session of the Legislature or for its GOP leaders to reconvene it themselves to consider the repeal.

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

Public health researchers on Tuesday called the rapid rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Arkansas a “raging forest fire,” and the state’s top health official warned that he expects significant outbreaks in schools.

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

Arkansas reported 2,552 new cases of the coronavirus between Saturday and Monday, with the state continuing to lead the nation per capita.

The Department of Health says there were 15 additional deaths in that time, with the total since the pandemic began now at 6,007. Hospitalizations grew by 106 to of 787.

UAMS covid-19 coronavirus
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Health officials have been sounding the warning for weeks on the Delta variant of COVID-19, but it has yet to slow down the public health threat. Now, UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson says the new strain of COVID-19 is overwhelming Arkansas’ health care system.

In a tweet Saturday, Patterson said, “The hospital @uamshealth is full. COVID-19 numbers increase every day. We are staffing inpatients in the ER and recovery room. No space for transfers. Running out of caregivers. Support health care workers. Mask up. Get vaxxed.”

Arkansas PBS

Arkansas continues leading the nation per capita in new coronavirus cases, blamed on the spread of the more infectious delta variant and the state’s vaccination rate, which is among the lowest in the country.

The Department of Health reported 1,342 new cases Friday, with the number of active cases growing by 671 to 9,750, a figure not seen in the state since Feb. 15. Eleven deaths were reported, with Arkansas on track to, in the coming days, surpass a death toll of 6,000 since the first deaths were announced in March 2020.

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

Arkansas reported more than 1,300 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday as the state’s hospitalizations with the coronavirus increased for the 15th day in a row.

The Department of Health said the state’s COVID-19 cases increased by 1,309 to 360,258 since the pandemic began. COVID-19 hospitalizations increased by 41 to 647, and deaths increased by seven to 5,977.

KARK-TV

Arkansas reported its biggest one-day jump in COVID-19 cases in five months on Tuesday as the state remained atop the country in new cases per capita.

The Department of Health said the state’s cases rose by 1,476 to 358,949 since the pandemic began. It was the biggest one-day jump reported by the state since Feb. 5, when it added 1,824 cases.

UAMS covid-19 coronavirus
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas’ coronavirus hospitalizations increased by 68 over the weekend, the Department of Health said Monday as the state remained tops in the country in new cases.

The Department of Health said the state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations now total 565. The state’s virus cases increased by 2,013 to 357,473 since the pandemic began. The department recently stopped reporting daily COVID-19 numbers on weekends, releasing the figures on Monday instead.

Dr. Joe Thompson
Arkansas Center for Health Improvement

Friday was the third consecutive day that new COVID-19 cases in Arkansas topped 1,000, and the rise in active cases in the past three days has risen more than 27%, according to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).

ADH numbers show 1,000 new cases on Wednesday, 1,210 on Thursday and 1,155 on Friday. The state’s cumulative number of cases is 355,462, and active cases rose by 673 on Friday to 6,605, which is 27.2% more than the 5,192 on Wednesday. Deaths rose by 4 to 5,948, and hospitalizations rose by 16 to 497.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson greeting audience members at Veterans Park Community Center in Cabot before the start of Thursday's meeting.
Christine Jones / KUAR News

On Thursday evening, a day Arkansas saw its highest number of new coronavirus cases since February, Gov. Asa Hutchinson held the first of several “Community COVID Conversations” that are being planned around the state. The meetings are intended to combat a rising number of cases by allaying fears about getting vaccinated.

The Department of Health reported on Thursday 1,210 new cases of people testing positive for the virus, while hospitalizations grew by 49 and there were 11 deaths.

UAMS Medical Assistant Latondra Ford prepares to stick a swab into the nose of a man going through the hospital's drive-thru triage location on July 23.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas on Wednesday reported 1,000 coronavirus cases, its biggest one-day spike in nearly five months

The Department of Health reported the state’s virus cases now total 353,095 and its hospitalizations increased by 16 to 432. The state’s COVID-19 deaths rose by seven to 5,933.

Wednesday marked the biggest one-day jump in cases for Arkansas since the state reported 1,103 on Feb. 10.

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

Arkansas reported its biggest one-day spike in coronavirus cases in four months Wednesday, an increase the state’s governor said was being fueled by the delta variant of the virus.

The state reported 686 new virus cases, bringing its total since the pandemic began to 349,385. The state’s active cases, meaning those that don’t include people who have recovered or died from the virus, increased by 398 to 3,763.

The one-day increase in cases was the state’s highest since it reported 726 on Feb. 25.

Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, speaking at Gov. Asa Hutchinson's weekly press briefing Tuesday.
Governor's Office / YouTube

New COVID-19 cases in Arkansas continue to climb and officials say the rapdily spreading delta variant and people not being vaccinated is the key reason why. The Department of Health reported 479 new cases Tuesday, along with eight additional deaths from COVID-19. 

At his weekly press briefing Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson urged Arkansans to take safety measures when participating in 4th of July activities to stop the spread of the virus.

Governor's Office

The state’s committee in charge of allocating $1.25 billion from the 2020 federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security or CARES Act, voted Wednesday to extend the spending timeline for certain projects until the end of the year.

According to Larry Walther, Secretary for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, several projects the CARES Act Steering Committee already approved and gave funds to had an initial spending deadline of June 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson provides new COVID-19 numbers in Arkansas during his weekly press briefing Tuesday.
Chris Banks / KUAR News

Arkansas on Tuesday reported 485 new coronavirus cases, its biggest one-day jump in more than three months.

The Department of Health said it was the biggest one-day increase since the state reported 570 new cases on March 5. The state has had 346,180 cases since the pandemic began last year.

The state’s active cases, meaning ones that don’t include people who have died or recovered, rose by 251 to 2,570. The state’s COVID-19 deaths rose by eight to 5,884. Hospitalizations rose by four to 285.

Arkansas Department of Health

In Arkansas, six variants of the coronavirus that cause Covid-19 have been identified as those labeled as "of concern" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention elevated the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV2 virus from variant of interest to variant of concern.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, with Arkansas Department of Health, says the state currently doesn't have the capacity to test all samples for variants, but sends potential variants out of state to be tested. 

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

Researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences are starting a one-year project to look at disparities between minority communities and the state’s general population when it comes to COVID-19.

The project is being funded by a $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, with UAMS being one of 11 teams selected nationwide. Researchers hope their efforts will increase vaccination rates among minorities.

Governor's Office

State employees in Arkansas will soon have the opportunity to earn a raise as a result of their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday a 3% "performance or merit" bonus will be given to state agencies, that in turn will be distributed to their employees based on their work.

"This last year, our workforce has shown dedication, resilience and flexibility during this pandemic. It’s been circumstances that no workforce has been through in the last 100 years," Hutchinson said.

The tower on Lee Mountain near Russellville which is the first of five new signals that Arkansas PBS says will go on the air this year to provide coverage to nearly the entire state.
Arkansas PBS

Arkansas PBS is now broadcasting on an additional signal near Russellville. It’s the first of five new transmitters being added this year to provide broadcast coverage to nearly the entire state.

The public television network said Thursday the new transmitter at Lee Mountain is operating at full power, with the signal capable of being picked up in Pope, Johnson, Logan and Yell counties.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday Arkansans that get a COVID-19 vaccine can receive a $20 lottery ticket or $20 gift certificate.
Governor's Office / YouTube

Arkansans will have the opportunity to receive incentives if they get vaccinated for COVID-19. Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday those who receive a vaccine going forward can take their vaccination card to a local health unit starting June 1 to choose between two incentives.

The first incentive people can choose from is the chance to receive a $20 Arkansas Lottery Scholarship scratch-off ticket. Eric Hagler, director of Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, says this could make someone a millionaire.

Governor's Office

During the first meeting of the committee slated to distribute around $1.57 billion in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan, Arkansas’ governor outlined broadband and vaccines as areas to which he would like to see funds allocated sooner rather than later.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Arkansas’ current public health emergency will end in just over one week.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Thursday the state of emergency brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic more than a year ago is set to end on May 30. Arkansas has been under the emergency declaration since March 11, 2020, the day the state saw its first resident test positive for COVID-19.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, seen speaking to reporters last week, announced Tuesday the creation of a panel to oversee how Arkansas spends $1.5 billion in federal pandemic assistance.
Chris Banks / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says Arkansas will receive $5 billion in federal funding as a result of the American Rescue Plan. At a press conference Tuesday, Hutchinson said some of the money will go to educational institutions, city and county governments, the Department of Human Service, and other areas that need financial assistance.

The Arkansas Medical Society hosted the first of four COVID-19 vaccination clinics at Arkansas Travelers baseball games on Tuesday.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas health officials and pharmacies continue working to try and make it as easy as possible for people in the state to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

At Tuesday night’s season opener for the Arkansas Travelers, the first of at least four vaccination clinics was held at Dickey Stephens Park in North Little Rock. But while there were lines of people waiting a half-hour or more for beer, there was no wait to get a shot, with the doctors and nurses mostly hanging out, eagerly engaging anyone who approached.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson provides new COVID-19 numbers in Arkansas during his weekly press briefing Tuesday.
Chris Banks / KUAR News

Arkansas' governor announced a challenge Tuesday to raise the state's COVID-19 vaccinated population in the next 90 days.

The goal, which Gov. Asa Hutchinson outlined during his weekly press briefing on the pandemic, is to have at least 50% of Arkansans vaccinated with at least one dose. Meeting that threshold would mean vaccinating 467,206 additional Arkansans, he said.

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