LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Gov. Asa Hutchinson outlined why he was advocating for more Arkansans to get vaccinated even if they had natural immunity from COVID-19 during a news briefing Tuesday.
Noting that research has shown natural immunity to last only around 90 days, Hutchinson actively encouraged people to take the vaccine and add the booster dose.
“Even if you’ve had COVID, you should still get vaccinated and get a booster shot when eligible,” he said.
The governor also reminded the state that it was this same time last year when Arkansas started seeing a growing surge of cases that continued into record levels of active cases and daily death numbers seen through the next two months.
Hutchinson also shared the latest case information from the Arkansas Department of Health, which showed 690 new cases in the state, moving the pandemic total to 525,130.
The active case number went back over 6,000, with the 108 new active cases moving the current total to 6,079. There were also seven deaths added to the state total, which now sits at 8,627.
There were 12 more patients in the hospital with the virus, moving that number to 345. The number of patients in ICU care dropped by two to 140, with 60 patients on ventilators, a decline of two.
There were 11,640 vaccine doses administered in the last day in Arkansas. There are 1,433,465 Arkansans who have been fully immunized from the virus, while another 319,105 were partially immunized.
Secretary of Education noted most schools in Arkansas are out for the week with the holiday, a break that officials hope will also disrupt the transmission cycle of the virus.
One day after testifying in a court case challenging the state ban on mask mandates, Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero discussed a new study about masking in school that showed the use of masks in schools led to a 28% decrease in cases among staff and a 24% drop in student cases.
Romero also stressed the seriousness of the virus, noting that COVID-19 is now in the top 10 causes of death for kids in the U.S., with 700 pediatric deaths across the country during the pandemic.
The governor shared his thoughts on Pres. Joe Biden’s move to release 50 million barrels of oil from the strategic reserve in an effort to address spiking gas prices, a major driver of inflation across the U.S.
Saying releasing the oil would have minimal impact, Hutchinson explained that he thinks a better long-term answer is to lift some of the restrictions the Biden administration has placed on domestic energy production.
Hutchinson said the number of state lawmakers backing his tax reduction plan continued to grow. While he noted he had no firm date yet to call a special session, he was looking at something possibly the week of December 6.
He also noted that he did not believe a new abortion bill would be considered during the special session but added he was looking for some guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court.