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As Arkansas approaches a million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Sunday that he is confident he will lift the mask mandate as scheduled on March 31.

Hutchinson announced Feb. 27 that he would lift the mask mandate in place since June 2020, intended to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, if certain targets were met by March 31. This includes the seven-day rolling average of test positivity staying below 10%, and the rolling average of daily tests reaching 7,500.

“I set some goals. And we’re making those goals. So, I expect that (mandate) to be lifted,” Hutchinson said Sunday while appearing on the CNN program “State of the Union.”

Since March 15, state health officials have administered 110,808 new vaccine doses, for a cumulative total of 959,791, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. About 57.5% of the 1,668,240 vaccine doses received by or allocated to Arkansas health officials had been distributed by Monday. Arkansans included in Phases 1-A,1-B and 1-C of the state distribution plan are eligible to receive the vaccine after Hutchinson opened eligibility to those in phase 1-C Tuesday.

Statewide, total active cases (confirmed and probable) fell to 2,332 Monday, a decrease of 246 in a day and 531 in a week, according to the ADH. Hospitalizations fell slightly to 184, down by three in a day and 66 in a week. Statewide, 42 patients were on ventilators Monday, no change from Sunday but a decrease of 16 in a week.

Total cumulative cases increased by 1,647 between March 15 and Monday, for a total of 328,707, according to the ADH. Cases rose by 52 between Sunday and Monday.

The ADH reported five new deaths from confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 Monday. The additional deaths bring the total death toll in Arkansas to 5,544, up 63 in a week.

Washington County reported 208 total active cases (confirmed and probable), and 29,986 total cumulative cases Monday. Benton County reported 272 total active cases and 27,947 total cumulative cases.

Total active cases decreased by 18 in a day and 67 in a week in Washington County. In Benton County, active cases fell by 43 in a day and 47 in a week. Total cumulative cases in the two counties increased by 145 and 178, respectively, in a week.

The number of active cases on the UA campus fell to one Monday from 10 Friday, according to the UA COVID-19 Dashboard.

The active case was a student. No new cases were identified in the reporting period of Friday-Sunday, while nine recoveries were recorded. All tests performed on campus during that period were negative.

Of the 36,100 tests performed on campus since Aug. 10, 2020, 1,378 have been positive, for a cumulative positivity rate of 3.8%.

Sarah Komar is the news editor for The Arkansas Traveler, where she previously worked as a staff reporter in 2019 and early 2020.

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