LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced a further expansion of the Arkansas vaccination plan during his weekly COVID-19 update on Tuesday.
Hutchinson said the state was moving to Phase 1-C effective immediately. This move opens up vaccinations to state residents 16-64 with heath conditions that would put them at greater risks for the severe effects of the coronavirus.
This also opens up vaccinations for a new wave of essential workers in the areas of energy, finance, food service, IT & communications, legal services, media, public health & human services, public safety, shelter & housing and transportation & logistic services.
Phase 1-C also includes those living in high-risk settings, including people living in group homes, crowded housing, student housing at colleges & universities and for those incarcerated or otherwise detained in the state.
The governor said the state was already seeing high levels of vaccinations in groups already eligible for doses, with more than 303,823 Arkansans already fully immunized, roughly 10 percent of the state’s total population. An additional 265,115 state residents have been partially vaccinated.
Hutchinson did note the state was looking to increase efforts to grow vaccinations in rural areas, which are seeing lower rates of doses administered.
As of Tuesday, Arkansas has received 1,499,580 vaccine doses through state and federal run programs, with 863,880 doses given in the state.
The Arkansas Department of Health also released the latest case data, with 396 new cases in the last 24 hours, moving the state active case count to 2,875. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Arkansas has seen 327,456 total cases.
There were 12 COVID-19 related deaths reported since Monday, moving the state’s total number of coronavirus deaths to 5,493.
Hospitalizations saw an increase of seven new COVID-19 cases in the last day to 257 patients. There are 58 patients on ventilators, no change from the prior day.
Hutchinson also encouraged Arkansans planning travel for spring break to get tested upon returning to the state to help prevent virus spread.
The governor also answered questions on moves in the state legislature, saying he opposed a measure that would refund COVID-19 related fines while adding that he is still committed to passing hate crimes legislation.