Following a week-long upward trend in statewide active cases of COVID-19, Gov. Asa Hutchinson recommended all Arkansans 18 and older get vaccine booster shots as soon as possible during a press briefing Monday.
The Arkansas Department of Health expanded booster shot eligibility Monday, a change Hutchinson hopes will reduce confusion for Arkansans interested in boosters, he said in his weekly briefing. All adult Arkansans who received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can now get a booster dose six months after their second dose. Those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can get a booster two months after their first dose.
“We want to make sure everybody that’s 18 and over is eligible, and is encouraged to get the booster,” Hutchinson said.
Adults aged 18-65 in long-term care settings, those with underlying health conditions and those working or living in high risk settings have been eligible for boosters in Arkansas since Sept. 28.
Statewide, active COVID-19 cases rose to 5,115 Tuesday, an increase of 330 in a day and 755 in a week, according to the ADH. Total cumulative cases increased by 814 Tuesday, for a total of 520,725. That number rose by 3,725 in a week.
The ADH reported 13 new deaths from COVID-19 Tuesday. The additional deaths bring the toll in Arkansas to 8,592, up 70 in a week.
Hospitalizations in Arkansas fell to 276 Tuesday, down 12 in a week, according to the ADH. Statewide, 63 patients were on ventilators Tuesday, an increase of four from Monday and no change from Nov. 9.
State health officials had administered nearly 3.3 million vaccine doses to Arkansans by Tuesday, according to the ADH, with 305,944 people partially immunized and over 1.42 million people fully immunized. Officials administered 9,912 new doses — including third and booster doses —between Monday and Tuesday, with 69,386 administered in a week.
The more than 1.42 million fully vaccinated Arkansans represent 50% of the state’s 12-and-up population. Almost 69% of Americans 12 and older have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Seventy-six percent of Arkansas’ vaccine supply — over 4.3 million doses — had been administered by Tuesday.
Washington County officials reported 357 total active cases and 45,168 total cumulative cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. Benton County reported 467 total active cases and 43,099 total cumulative cases the same day, according to the ADH.
Total active cases rose by 23 in a day and 71 in a week in Washington County. In Benton County, active cases fell by five in a day and rose by 41 in a week. Total cumulative cases in the two counties increased by 273 and 375, respectively, in a week.
There were 18 active COVID-19 cases on the UA campus during last week’s reporting period, according to the Pat Walker Health Center COVID-19 Dashboard. Of the active cases, 16 were students and two were staff.
PWHC officials recorded 15 new cases last week, five of which were self-reported and 10 of which were identified through on-campus testing. Four hundred additional tests came back negative, for a weekly positivity rate of 2.4%.