Governor gives updates on hospitalizations...

(12/22/20) Governor gives updates on hospitalizations and vaccine distribution

The following statistics were shared at the governor’s weekly COVID-19 update on Tuesday, Dec. 22, and posted on the Arkansas Department of Health’s (ADH) website:

  • 205,048 total cases, up 1,941 from Monday.
  • 21,979 total active cases, down 179 from Monday.
  • 3,338 total deaths, up 43 from Monday.
  • 1,103 cases requiring hospitalization, up 25 from Monday.
  • 173 cases requiring a ventilator, down one from Monday. 
  • 5,143 cumulative cases in Garland County, up 60 from Monday.
  • 592 active cases in Garland County, up two from Monday.
  • 4,410 recoveries in Garland County, up 56 from Monday.
  • 139 deaths in Garland County, up two from Monday.

In the past 24 hours, the number of positive PCR tests added in Arkansas was 1,110, with 1,095 from the community and 15 from correctional facilities. There were 831 positive antigen results from a total of 4,010 antigen tests in the past 24 hours. The number of PCR tests received in the past 24 hours was 7,169. 

Hutchinson said the focus of vaccinations thus far has been on healthcare workers, and as of the morning of Dec. 22, there had been 12,969 workers who have been given the vaccine. The allocations for next week have been received and total 23,400 new doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 17,700 of the Moderna vaccine, which will be distributed to pharmacies for us in nursing homes.

In terms of the number of COVID-19 patients currently requiring hospitalization, which rose 25 since yesterday to an all-time high, Hutchinson said that “everybody actually expected the hospitalizations to be higher than they are right now,” and we are better than expected position right now. He cited that the hospitalization rate has not increased at the same rate as the new cases. He said the existing capacity has been able to handle the current caseload, but “we don’t know, with 25 more today, we don’t know what the rest of December is going to be like; we don’t know what January is going to be like, because we don’t know what Christmas is going to be like.” 

To prepare for a possible post-Christmas spike, Hutchinson announced he has authorized an alternative care site to be built out, with funding for additional bed space in a partnership with Baptist Health Systems. It will provide 124 new beds, some being ICU beds. It will be in Van Buren and in Central Arkansas, and will be managed by the COVIDComm system. 

Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said there is a large supply of monoclonal antibody treatments available for use throughout the state, particularly for those 65-and-older. He encouraged anyone who has tested positive in this age group or others that are at high risk to contact their primary care physician early in their infection for more information on this treatment. 

ADH will be posting the updated directive for indoor venues, “reducing from 100 to 10 the size of the crowd that will trigger prior approval or a plan to be submitted and approved from the Department of Health,” said Hutchinson. This does not apply to places of worship, retail businesses, community- or school-sponsored sports, and restaurants or bars, which are all covered by other guidelines or are not regulated. This will be effective Jan. 2 through March 1. 

12-22-20 ADH daily graphic