Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson hosted a media briefing today during which he reported there are a total of 2,843 new cases of COVID-19 since Wednesday. The cumulative number of confirmed positive cases in the state is at 382,569, with 17,232 active cases. COVID-19 deaths in Arkansas are at 6,110. One thousand, fifty-five (1,055) individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19.
“I would emphasize that number 2,843 is one of the largest days we have seen since the pandemic started,” Governor Hutchinson said. “This is a stress point for us, knowing that this is going to lead to additional hospitalizations down the road.”
The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) received results from 8,519 PCR tests and 1,893 antigen tests within the past 24 hours. The top counties with the highest number of new cases in the past 24 hours are:
381 in Pulaski County
209 in Washington County
193 in Benton County
In Arkansas, 2,322,861 doses of vaccine have been given. According to ADH, 297,266 Arkansans are partially immunized and 1,053,989 are fully immunized.
The Governor announced he has signed the proclamation reinstating a statewide public health emergency today which will extend for 60 days. It will have to be reviewed by the General Assembly, but it is in effect today, and legislators will be able to convene as a committee of the whole to review it.
“Whenever you have today, I believe it is four, COVID patients waiting in ambulances to be able to find a hospital to go to, that constitutes an emergency and a public health crisis,” Governor Hutchinson said.
Two of the reasons for the public health emergency proclamation is for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management to seek necessary staffing assistance in health care programs across Arkansas through the interstate compact, as well as to ease licensure for healthcare professionals who came back from retirement or who are entering into service.
“The issue that I am very concerned about which is the children in our school systems that are 12 and under that are not eligible to be vaccinated. Everyone else, it is a decision that can be made with their parents or individually and the answer to the public health concerns is simply to get vaccinated. But when you are looking at that 12 and under, they can’t get vaccinated because they are not eligible and it hasn’t been approved for them. So right now we have a prohibition that’s enacted by statute, which is Act 1002, that prohibits the local school districts from making local decisions on what they should do public health wise in their school system. So I will be calling a special session of the legislature, most likely next week, to amend Act 1002, to give local school boards, local decision makers, the authority to make a decision for the public health of those that are 12 and under, or their entire school environment, but I’m particularly concerned about those that are in that age category,” the Governor said.
The Governor reported Arkansas Children’s Hospital currently has 24 adolescents in the hospital as a result of COVID. Two of the patients are on a ventilator and five are in ICU. None of the patients were fully immunized. Twelve of the 24 are under the age of 12 and therefore ineligible to be vaccinated.
Governor Hutchinson emphasized there would be no statewide mask mandate imposed.
“This is a discussion about the school environment where schools can make decisions to add to the public health for their own school environment and for the children that they have a responsibility to protection,” the Governor said.
Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) COVID-19 information can be found at:
Facebook: facebook.com/asaforarkansas or facebook.com/arhealthdept
2021-2022 COVID-19 Guidance for Schools
The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education issued Commissioner’s Memo COM-20-020: 2021-2022 COVID-19 Guidance for Schools to provide updated guidance based on the public health situation with COVID-19 as it is understood today. DESE will update this guidance as needed if additional or new guidance is made available by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).