Governor Hutchinson talks Delta variant concerns and vaccination rates

Rolling 7-day average of COVID cases in Arkansas - 6/29/21
Rolling 7-day average of COVID cases in Arkansas - 6/29/21
Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 9:57 PM CDT
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - On Tuesday, Governor Asa Hutchinson talked about vaccination efforts in Arkansas, and a grim prediction about the Delta variant was provided by Dr. Cam Patterson, saying we are going in the wrong direction and fears the third surge.

“But we all need to keep in mind we may be headed back to the same situation we were in over the winter,” said Patterson.

Governor Asa Hutchinson says Arkansas has seen an increase in cases after Memorial Day. He fears we will see more cases after the Fourth of July, meaning it’s crucial to get the vaccine, especially before school starts back in the fall.

The top concern at the press conference was the Delta variant. Dr. Patterson predicts that in a week, more than half of the cases will be the Delta variant. It’s 70 percent more contagious and twice as easy to pass.

Patterson says the virus is ripping through people of all ages.

“We’ve seen a substantial increase in the number of patients who are requiring mechanical ventilation, and over the past 6 weeks, we’ve had four patients at UAMS who were COVID-19 positive who have required heart-lung bypass for their treatment,” said Patterson.

Patterson adds that patients are trending sicker now than a year ago.

Governor Hutchinson explained that the fully vaccinated eligible rate sits at 39 percent. The 18 and above population is 52.4 percent.

Vaccine rates didn’t go up once incentives became involved. Hutchinson says some constraints because of the Constitution, didn’t allow the program to take off as it should have.

”To be an effective incentive, it has to be immediate gratification, and that was delayed in this instance. But even beyond that, Ohio, which had one of the more successful incentive programs, they canceled theirs,” said Hutchinson. “They canceled their lottery because it had an initial splash for an effective period of time, and it declined. “

Since January 26th, more than 37,000 have been hospitalized. Over 98 percent of them weren’t vaccinated.

Seventy-eight and a half percent of residents and 57 percent of staff in long-term care facilities have had their vaccine.

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