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State’s covid-19 hospitalizations soar

Governor aims to tackle vaccine hesitancy by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette , Jeannie Roberts | July 8, 2021 at 7:32 a.m.
Xavier Hood, 13, receives his first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine Wednesday, June 9, 2021, from Eric Crumbaugh, a doctor of pharmacy with Express Rx, at Mann Magnet Middle School in Little Rock. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Arkansas jumped Tuesday by 55, to 416, the largest one-day increase since January.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson attributed the uptick to the state’s low vaccination rates.

Fifteen more COVID-19 patients were admitted into intensive care units, raising the total to 176, a week-to-week increase of 34 from the 142 reported the previous Tuesday.

Those patients requiring ventilators to breathe increased by 10, to 76 — up seven from 69 a week ago.

The increases came the same day Hutchinson announced a statewide tour to talk directly with residents and address vaccine hesitancy.

They also came as public health experts have been warning of a new mutation of the virus that is shown to be more contagious and cause more severe illness.

“If you look at the hospital data, and of course, that tells us the largest story — that we had a 55 increase in hospitalizations. Fifty-five,” Hutchinson said during his weekly news conference Tuesday afternoon. “This is the largest increase in hospitalizations since January. It is the largest increase in hospitalizations since we’ve had the vaccination available to prevent hospitalizations.”

Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero warned that it could be much worse.

“This is the most significant increase we’ve had really when we look at the fact that now we have vaccines to prevent this,” Romero said.

Arkansas reported 270 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, higher than the previous two days but significantly lower than the 764 new cases added Saturday.

Hutchinson pointed out that the lower case numbers are likely due to the Fourth of July holiday weekend, which meant less testing and reporting.

“We’ll stay tuned for the rest of the week, but the hospitalizations obviously tell the story for today,” Hutchinson said.

The number of Arkansans 12 years old and up who received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine rose by 228, to 225,525, or 9.5% of the approximately 2.5 million Arkansans 12 and older. The number of people fully immunized increased by 901, to 1,003,703, or 42.27% of the eligible population.

Of the 2,724,040 vaccine doses received in the state, 2,156,928, or 79.2%, have been administered.

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