Arkansas Virus Hospitalizations Nearing 1,300, A New Record


Arkansas Virus Hospitalizations Nearing 1,300, A New Record
Gov. Asa Hutchinson (file) (YouTube/Arkansas Governor's Office)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The number of patients hospitalized because of coronavirus in Arkansas continued surging Monday to a new record of nearly 1,300.

There were 1,296 people hospitalized because of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, up from 1,234 a day before, according to the Department of Health. 

The state's virus cases rose by 1,306 to 234,781 and 51 more people died from COVID-19, the department said.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson called the increase in deaths and hospitalizations "vivid reminders of how many families are hurting because of this pandemic. 

“Our health care system is stretched and the numbers are likely to increase more," Hutchinson said in a statement released by his office.

About 28% of the 124,325 COVID-19 vaccinations received by Arkansas' hospitals, long-term care facilities and other health care providers, according to the Department of Health. Only about 5% of the 24,700 vaccines allocated to CVS and Walgreens through the Long Term Care Federal Program.

Hutchinson has said the state's goal is to vaccinate all in its first phase — health care workers and nursing home employees in residents — by the end of January and move on to the next phase in February. The governor said the initial rollout shows there needs to be adjustments at the federal and state level.

“We've learned the challenges initially that is going to be compounded whenever we get to the larger population groups," he told The Associated Press in an interview. “We've just got to have more resources devoted to it, and we're working very hard to accomplish that."

Over the past two weeks, there were 1,056 new cases per 100,000 people in Arkansas, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. That ranks fifth in the country for new cases per capita, according to Johns Hopkins.

One in every 162 people in Arkansas tested positive for the virus in the past week.

Four percent of the state's intensive care unit beds and 22% of its hospital beds were available, according to the Department of Health. There are 411 COVID-19 patients in ICUs around the state.

The Arkansas Department of Corrections on Monday said it will conduct its first round of coronavirus vaccinations for employees. A department spokeswoman said at least 975 will receive the vaccine, which will go toward the department's contracted medical provider and to officers permanently assigned to medical security and transportation roles.

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