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Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday that workers in poultry and other food manufacturing facilities are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, granting an additional 49,000 Arkansans access to the vaccine under Phase 1-B. 

The announcement came the same day state health officials reported the first positively identified case of the virus variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

“This is not a surprise to us, we expected the U.K variant to be here,” Gov. Hutchison said. “It’s just a matter of that it has been simply documented, and that the U.K variant is here. It’s a reminder that we have to be cautious, and mind ourselves the virus is in there.” 

Active COVID-19 cases in Arkansas increased by 24 Wednesday for a total of 4,278 active cases, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. COVID-19 hospitalizations decreased by 19, for a total of 397 patients hospitalized in Arkansas. Ninety-one were on ventilators, rising by 11 Tuesday.

Active cases at the UofA rose by one to 14 Wednesday, health officials reported. Of the active cases, 12 are students, one is a staff member and one is a faculty member, according to the UA COVID-19 dashboard.

UA health officials reported one new case and zero new recoveries for the Monday-Tuesday reporting period. The positive case was self-reported. 

Since Aug. 10, UA health officials have performed 33,112 tests on campus. Of those tests, 1,354 yielded positive results, for a 4.1% positivity rate. Of UA community members with confirmed cases of COVID-19 since Aug. 10, 2,823 have recovered, according to the dashboard.

From Feb. 22-28, the weekly active case average was 21, decreasing by two from the period of Feb. 15-21. The weekly testing positivity rate also decreased, falling to 0.7% for Feb. 22-28 from 1.1% the week prior, according to the dashboard.

Washington County reported 26 probable and confirmed active cases Wednesday, bringing the total to 420. Benton County added 34, for a total of 299, according to the ADH.


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