Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Secretary of Health Jose Romero urged Arkansans to get their flu shots at the governor’s weekly press conference Tuesday, warning that failure to curb the spread of influenza during the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a dual health crisis.
Hutchinson and Romero received their flu shots on camera at the beginning of Tuesday’s press conference, after which Hutchinson shared data showing that this year’s off-season baseline rate of flu-like illnesses has been higher than in previous years.
“It’s just an early reminder that we could be entering a challenging time if we all don’t get the flu shot this year,” Hutchinson said.
Although COVID-19 cases are declining and the pandemic seems to be trending in an encouraging direction, conditions could change unexpectedly as fall turns to winter, and an accompanying surge in flu cases could be devastating, Romero said.
“We really want people to get their flu vaccine this year along with the COVID vaccine,” Romero said. “We don’t want to have twindemics: spikes with both COVID and with the flu. We have that potential to happen this year as we’ve done away with social distancing and masking.”
Statewide, total active cases of COVID-19 (confirmed and probable) fell to 4,826 Tuesday, a decrease of 86 in a day and 1,027 in a week, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. Total cumulative cases increased by 502 Tuesday, for a total of 510,908. That number rose by 3,149 in a week.
The ADH reported 14 new deaths from COVID-19 Tuesday. The additional deaths bring the toll in Arkansas to 8,306, up 85 in a week.
Hospitalizations in Arkansas fell by 15 Tuesday to 380, down 81 in a week, according to the ADH. Statewide, 113 patients were on ventilators Tuesday, no change from Monday and a decrease of 15 from Oct. 19.
State health officials had administered 3,082,740 vaccine doses to Arkansans by Tuesday, with 284,370 people partially immunized and nearly 1.39 million fully immunized, according to the ADH. The number of fully vaccinated Arkansans increased by 1,711 and 11,527 new doses were administered between Monday and Tuesday. Over 60% of those doses were third or booster doses, Hutchinson said in his press conference.
Washington County officials reported 336 total active cases and 44,479 total cumulative cases Tuesday, according to the ADH. Benton County officials reported 471 total active cases and 42,029 total cumulative cases.
Total active cases in Washington County fell by five in a day and 57 in a week, according to the ADH. In Benton County, active cases rose by 14 in a day and one in a week. Total cumulative cases in the two counties increased by 239 and 326, respectively, in a week.
Active COVID-19 cases on the UA campus fell to 12, a decrease of eight between the week of Oct. 11-17 and the week of Oct. 18-24. Of current active cases, nine are students, one is a staff member, one is a faculty member and one is in the category designated “other,” which includes vendors, contractors and other non-university employees.
During the week of Oct. 18-24, six of 384 on-campus tests were positive, for a positivity rate of 1.6%. There were 12 total new cases during the week, six of which were self-reported.