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Gov. Hutchinson: Craighead County leads state in new COVID cases

Craighead County leads the state of Arkansas in the number of new COVID-19 cases.
Craighead County leads the state of Arkansas in the number of new COVID-19 cases.(KAIT-TV)
Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 9:21 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2021 at 5:16 PM CST
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - Craighead County leads the state of Arkansas in the number of new COVID-19 cases.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson made that announcement Tuesday, Dec. 21, during his weekly briefing.

In the last 24 hours, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 116 new cases in Craighead County.

It’s the third day in a row the county has been in the top three and the first time in months that its numbers topped the rest of the state’s counties.

Craighead County leads the state of Arkansas in the number of new COVID-19 cases.
Craighead County leads the state of Arkansas in the number of new COVID-19 cases.(KAIT-TV)

Last week, Arkansas confirmed its first case of the omicron variant of COVID-19.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the variant makes up 73 percent of the new cases nationwide.

The CDC says new omicron cases are even higher in our region—which includes Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and New Mexico—than the national caseload with 92 percent of new cases being of the omicron variant.

Hutchinson spoke with the CDC and the White House before Tuesday’s briefing about the report’s accuracy.

“The 92 percent is for the region,” he emphasized. “It is a projection based upon the latest surveillance data.”

Regardless of whether the current estimate is precise, Hutchinson said it is clear omicron is in Arkansas, is spreading rapidly, and will define the state’s prevention efforts in the coming months.

“The good news is we are at the beginning of the omicron variant in Arkansas,” Hutchinson said. “We should have a good Christmas with adequate hospital space.”

During a Tuesday meeting with the Winter COVID Task Force, hospital administrators from across the state assured the governor they are “comfortable with their hospital space.”

Hutchinson said the state has a “window of opportunity” to act before omicron reaches its peak.

“We know the vaccines are effective, even against this variant,” he added. “They prevent serious consequences in most cases and vastly reduce hospitalizations.”

Sixty-two percent of Arkansas residents have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine and 51 percent are fully vaccinated. Only 14 percent have the booster dose.

“That’s where we have a lot of work to do to increase the fully vaccinated and those with the booster dose,” Hutchinson said. “That means omicron has plenty of room among the nonvaccinated and the partially-vaccinated to do its work.”

He added the number of hospitalizations among those who are unvaccinated “will increase.”

Watch the full briefing live here>>

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