Governor gives weekly update on cases and vaccinations
(3/2/21) Governor’s weekly COVID update: Hospitalizations continue downward trend
The following statistics were shared at the governor’s weekly COVID-19 update on Tuesday, March 2, and posted on the Arkansas Department of Health’s (ADH) website:
- 322,949 total cases, up 440 from Monday.
- 4,254 total active cases, up 12 from Monday.
- 5,254 total deaths, up four from Monday.
- 416 cases requiring hospitalization, down 25 from Monday.
- 80 cases requiring a ventilator, down four from Monday.
- 9,736 cumulative cases in Garland County, up six from Monday.
- 183 active cases in Garland County, down five from Monday.
- 9,322 recoveries in Garland County, up 22 from Monday.
- 231 deaths in Garland County, no change from Monday.
In the past 24 hours, the number of positive PCR tests added in Arkansas was 225, with 222 from the community and three from correctional facilities. There were 215 positive antigen results from a total of 1,837 antigen tests in the past 24 hours. The number of PCR tests received in the past 24 hours was 3,121.
Hutchinson announced that the state’s vaccination distribution plan is being expanded, effective today, for Phase 1-B to include food manufacturing workers. This group includes meat processing and grain and oilseed milling, and is estimated to total around 49,000 Arkansans.
In an effort to continue to increase vaccine locations in rural areas across the state, one location in each of the five public health regions will host a weekly vaccination clinic in counties with low-vaccine uptake. It will be on first-come, first-served bases initially. Among the initial counties to be targeted include Dallas County in the Southwest region.
In his vaccination progress update, he shared that the state has received a cumulative total of 975,910 doses, of which 609,055, or 62.4%, have been administered. From the federal program, 47.9% of the 91,070 doses received in the state have been administered through Walmart, CVS and Walgreens. He said that the federal program is primarily through Walmart at this point, as CVS and Walgreens were handling long-term care facilities.
In looking at the remaining timeline for Phase 1-B, an estimated 520,000 individuals are yet to be vaccinated from this group. By conservatively looking at the number of doses the state receives weekly, averaging around 82,000, the state would have around 320,000 available doses in March. Although this total falls short of the number yet to be vaccinated, the governor said our supply could increase and that he anticipates coming close to the goal of completing 1-B in March.
On a call today with the White House COVID Task Force, the governor learned that the state’s allocation of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will increase by between 2,400-3,000 per week. In addition, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been approved for use, and the state will receive its first shipment of 24,000 this week.
In terms of the case report, the governor is pleased that the state continues “to hold steady, if not decline.” He noted that the significant good news is the number of hospitalizations decreased again today, and it is down to a level not seen since last August. He also highlighted the lowering of the positivity rate, which has fallen well below the 10% mark. The testing numbers continue to be “modest,” however.
Before introducing Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero, Hutchinson shared that the Arkansas Department of Health, working with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), has confirmed for the first time a case of the U.K. variant in the state.
“This is not a surprise to us. We expected the U.K. variant to be here,” he said. “It’s just simply a matter that it has now been documented that the U.K. variant is here. It’s a reminder that we have to be cautious…What the scientists say about the U.K. variant is that it is more contagious.”
Romero added that this is a reminder to continue to wear masks and to get immunized. He said the vaccines that we have available have been proven effective against the U.K. variant.
Secretary of Education Johnny Key implored continued vigilance in the schools. “With all the good news that we have now about our case counts, this is no time for us to let up, especially in our schools. Our in-school case numbers are reflecting the positive trends in the communities, and we want that to continue,” he said.