LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – On Tuesday Governor Asa Hutchinson explained that Arkansas is not getting enough Arkansans vaccinated, which is why he said hospitalizations are going up.
“While we have 1 million fully vaccinated in Arkansas that is not high enough to prevent more cases, more hospitalizations, and more deaths,” he said.
The delta variant is becoming the most dominant strain of the virus and is showing that in Arkansas with approximately half of all cases are from the delta variant.
“We have protected people not getting infected and we have unprotected people — over 98% of the hospitalizations and an even higher number of deaths are happening in unprotected, non vaccinated individuals,” Dr. Joe Thompson from ACHI explained.
“That’s extraordinary. So if you don’t want to go to the hospital, get vaccinated,” Governor Hutchinson said when asked about Arkansas mirroring the national trend.
A John’s Hopkins heat map of cases in the past two weeks shows Arkansas and Southern Missouri as some of the hottest areas in the nation right now.
Dr. Thompson said the state could soon see the consequences of the low vaccination numbers.
“Many other states are well over 50% some into the 60-70% and those are the protected areas, if not regions now. Our state continues to be unprotected and I’m afraid we’re going to pay the price,” Dr. Thompson said.
Both said there is enough data that shows the vaccine is safe to take and the side effects are minimal, especially compared to those of COVID-19.
The Governor is also encouraging employers to allow their employees paid time off to get the vaccine. He said many still state not being able to work because of potential short-term side effects of the shot as a reason for being hesitant.
He also announced he will be having Community COVID Conversations. He wants to have an open dialogue with people at these events to hopefully educate on issues and to understand why people have been hesitant to get the vaccine.
The first of these events is scheduled to be in Cabot on Thursday, July 8 at 6 pm at the Veterans Park Events Center. His office hopes to have more of these events scheduled by the end of the week.