The surge of COVID-19 in Arkansas driven by the omicron variant is subsiding, but the state’s vaccination rate has stalled at one of the lowest in the country.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced in his weekly media briefing Thursday that Arkansas’ active cases have been halved since last week, but the state’s vaccination numbers are still lower than his administration hoped for.
The governor urged Arkansans to get vaccinated despite the plummeting case rate, noting that over 80% of hospitalizations and deaths within the past year were among individuals not fully vaccinated.
“With our numbers going down, that’s going to be a challenge to get people’s attention,” Hutchinson said.
Arkansas ranks 45th out of the 50 states in percentage of population fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Statewide, active COVID-19 cases fell by 2,790 between Wednesday and Thursday and by 25,490 in a week, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. Total cumulative cases increased by 1,825 Thursday, for a total of 802,198. That number rose by 11,975 in a week.
The ADH reported 10 new deaths from COVID-19 Thursday. The additional deaths bring the toll in Arkansas to 9,937, up 204 in a week.
Hospitalizations in Arkansas fell to 1,257 Thursday, down by 66 in a day and 348 in a week, according to the ADH. Statewide, 186 patients were on ventilators Thursday, a decrease of five from Wednesday and 44 from Feb. 3.
State health officials had administered more than 3.91 million vaccine doses to Arkansans by Thursday, according to the ADH, with 371,320 people partially immunized and over 1.55 million people fully immunized. Officials administered 3,865 new doses — including third and booster doses — between Wednesday and Thursday, with 17,206 administered in a week.
The more than 1.54 million fully vaccinated Arkansans represent nearly 55% of the state’s 5-and-up population. Over 68% of Americans 5 and older have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Seventy-nine percent of Arkansas’ vaccine supply — nearly five million doses — had been administered by Thursday.
Washington County officials reported 1,881 active COVID-19 cases Thursday. Benton County officials reported 1,982 active cases, according to the ADH. Total cases in the two counties increased by 1,292 and 952, respectively, in a week.
There were 54 active COVID-19 cases recorded on the UA campus during the Jan. 31-Feb. 6 reporting period, down 125 from the previous week, according to the Pat Walker Health Center COVID-19 Dashboard. Of the active cases, 34 were students, one was a graduate assistant, eight were faculty, eight were staff, and three were not affiliated with the UofA.
PWHC officials recorded 163 new cases last week, 108 of which were self-reported and 48 of which were identified through on-campus testing. An additional 254 tests came back negative, for a weekly positivity rate of 15.9%.
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