As a service to our readers, The Sentinel-Record publishes updates released by the city of Hot Springs and the state of Arkansas.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson held his weekly press briefing Tuesday at the state Capitol. The following stats were posted Tuesday on the Arkansas Department of Health website:
• 130,826 cumulative confirmed cases, up 1,421 from Monday.
• 1,383.29 rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases, up 39.43 from Monday.
• 1,617,903 PCR test reports, up 12,730 from Monday.
• 8.1% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Monday.
• 17,486 cumulative probable cases, up 701 from Monday.
• 17.1% cumulative antigen infection rate, up from 17.0% Monday.
• 17,057 active confirmed and probable cases, up 330 from Monday.
• 128,831 recoveries of confirmed and probable cases, up 1,772 from Monday.
• 988 hospitalizations, up 14 from Monday.
• 160 cases on a ventilator, down four from Monday.
• 2,208 confirmed deaths, up 17 from Monday.
• 197 probable deaths, up one from Monday.
• 1,015 nursing home deaths, up eight from Monday.
• 3,318 cumulative confirmed cases in Garland County, up 53 from Monday.
• 39.43 rolling seven-day average of new cases, up 3.57 from Monday.
• 51,466 PCR and antigen test reports, up 430 from Monday.
• 36,495 private lab reports, 359 from Monday.
• 14,971 public lab reports, up 71 from Monday.
• 6.7% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Monday.
• 364 active confirmed cases in Garland County, up two from Monday.
• 2,855 recoveries of confirmed cases in Garland County, up 51 from Monday.
• 261 cumulative probable cases in Garland County, up 19 from Monday.
• 69 active probable cases in Garland County, up 13 from Monday.
• 99 confirmed deaths, no change from Monday.
• Five probable deaths, no change from Monday.
The Health Department said Arkansas will receive its first vaccine allocation by the end of the year. The initial distribution of 45,000 to 90,000 doses will be reserved for health care workers and high-risk populations, Dr. Jose Romero, Health Department secretary, said.
Doses sufficient to vaccinate everyone in the state won't be available until the second or third quarter of next year, he said.
"The first of the three vaccines will undergo review on Dec. 10, and then shortly after that will be reviewed by the second organization for prioritization and safety," Romero said. "Once they've been approved by both the (Food and Drug Administration) and (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices), they will be shipped to the states.
"We will receive an allotment. That allotment will not be enough to cover the entire state. It will be for our health care providers and high-risk population."
Pfizer's vaccine will be the first reviewed. Romero noted the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has also proven effective. According to news reports, it's cheaper and easier to store than Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines.
Hutchinson said vaccinations won't be mandatory.
"We're going to encourage," he said. "We're going to market. We're going to build confidence in the vaccine. That will start with FDA approval, and the fact they are going through their review process methodically, as they always do. We want to be able to support that and build confidence. I do not suspect there will be broad mandates across Arkansas. We will simply encourage everyone to do the vaccine."
Romero said the state has 1,200 doses of Regeneron and Eli Lilly therapeutics. The FDA granted emergency use authorizations for both companies' monoclonal antibody therapeutics.
"So there's two different products being sent to hospitals as they call for drugs," he said. "These drugs are targeted for outpatient therapy to keep people from going far enough into illness to go into hospitalization. It's a preemptive measure to keep them out of the hospital."
Hospitalizations reached a new peak for the third day in a row Tuesday, and the state's infection curve peaked for the 17th time in 19 days. Officials continued to warn against activities that can spread the virus during the Thanksgiving holiday. Gatherings need to be outside, brief and socially distanced, Romero said, and masks need to be worn.
"I know this holiday is very important," Romero said. "It's part of our culture, but it's also very important we do this in a safer manner than we have in the past. We don't want to see these numbers increase after the holidays. We have the potential to overload our health care system if we do not act appropriately."
The city of Hot Springs said it plans to resume alternate work schedules as a result of the rising number of city employees who have had to quarantine because of close contact to known positives. Police Chief Chris Chapmond said the lobby of the police station has been temporarily closed to prevent the spread of the virus.