Governor give update on cases and vaccinations

(2/23/21) Governor’s weekly COVID update: Testing still low from weather

The following statistics were shared at the governor’s weekly COVID-19 update on Tuesday, Feb. 23, and posted on the Arkansas Department of Health’s (ADH) website:

  • 316,593 total cases, up 834 from Monday.
  • 4,807 total active cases, down 92 from Monday.
  • 5,377 total deaths, up 14 from Monday.
  • 545 cases requiring hospitalization, down 43 from Monday.
  • 99 cases requiring a ventilator, down 10 from Monday. 
  • 9,536 cumulative cases in Garland County, up 39 from Monday.
  • 262 active cases in Garland County, down three from Monday.
  • 9,041 recoveries in Garland County, up 54 from Monday.
  • 231 deaths in Garland County, no change from Monday.

In the past 24 hours, the number of positive PCR tests added in Arkansas was 419, with all being from the community (none from correctional facilities). There were 415 positive antigen results from a total of 2,101 antigen tests in the past 24 hours. The number of PCR tests received in the past 24 hours was 2,496. 

Hutchinson acknowledged, as President Biden has recognized, that the U.S. passed a “sorrowful landmark” in reaching 500,000 deaths as a result of COVID-19. As a result, the State of Arkansas is lowering flags to half-mast in accordance with the presidential proclamation.

The governor announced that the state is expanding Phase 1-B to lower the age group eligible for vaccination to 65 years and older. This adds an additional 115,000 Arkansans now eligible to be vaccinated. Vaccines continue to be available through community pharmacies/clinics in each county. Registration is required. 

He said that most of the teachers and emergency and nursing home workers have been vaccinated from Phase 1-A, but there are still some remaining in the age 70-and-older group from the first part of Phase 1-B, according to Hutchinson. It was added later that 14% of the 70-and-older group in the state have received fully vaccinated. 

Hutchinson said that the goal of completing Phase 1-B in March remains intact, but he said there is a lot of work to do to keep up with this schedule. 

In his vaccination progress update, he shared that the state recently received 102,705 doses, bringing the cumulative total to 794,230. Of this total, 500,914 doses have been administered, or 63.1%. From the federal program, 55% of the 61,000 doses received in the state have been administered through Walmart, CVS and Walgreens. 

Hutchinson spoke with the White House COVID Task Force today and found out that Arkansas will be allocated around 4,000 additional doses each week for the next three weeks.

In the case report, Hutchinson noted that we continue to see a decreasing number of new deaths. Hospitalizations, too, continue to be good news, which he said is a result of improved therapeutics. “But I also have confidence that the reduced hospitalizations has something to do with the vaccines that are available and have been administered to our elderly population,” he added.

He noted that testing is higher than a week ago, when the state was inundated with inclement weather, but the level is still low. The 834 positive results “is a reminder that the virus is still with us and we have a lot of work to do, and we have to keep those cases down and get vaccinated to stay on target,” he said.

Secretary of Heath Dr. Jose Romero added that they are seeing a decrease of deaths in long-term care facilities as a result of the vaccination program. “Remember to wear your mask, wash your hands and keep your distance. It is easy to become fatigued about this disease. We are winning. We are getting ahead of this, but we need to continue to use the masks. It is an effective way to reduce transmission,” he said.

2-23-21 ADH daily graphic