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COVID-19 update: Allay vaccine concerns in minorities, governor says

April 7, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.
This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). - Image by CDC via The Associated Press

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 update Tuesday at the state Capitol.

The following stats were posted Tuesday on the Arkansas Department of Health website:

• 259,929 cumulative confirmed cases, up 71 from Monday.

• 100.86 rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases, down 4.57 from Monday.

• 2,880,376 PCR test reports, up 3,461 from Monday.

• 9.0% cumulative antigen infection rate, no change from Monday.

• 71,332 cumulative probable cases, up 92 from Monday.

• 15.8% cumulative antigen infection rate, down from 15.9% Monday.

• 1,881,900 vaccine doses received, up 58,020 from Monday.

• 1,276,675 doses given, up 25,074 from Monday.

• 1,602 active confirmed and probable cases, down five from Monday.

• 323,960 recoveries of confirmed and probable cases, up 163 from Monday.

• 152 hospitalizations, up seven from Monday.

• 26 cases on a ventilator, up three from Monday.

• 67 ICU patients, up one from Monday.

• 4,505 confirmed deaths, up four from Monday.

• 1,148 probable deaths, up one from Monday.

• 2,065 nursing home deaths, no change from Monday.

• 8,455 cumulative confirmed cases in Garland County, up three from Monday.

• 2.57 rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases, no change from Monday.

• 112,286 PCR and antigen test reports, up 104 from Monday.

• 84,848 private lab reports, 101 from Monday

• 27,438 public lab reports, up three from Monday.

• 8.7% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Monday.

• 22 active confirmed cases in Garland County, up two from Monday.

• 8,227 recoveries of confirmed cases, up one from Monday.

• 1,595 cumulative probable cases in Garland County, up three from Monday.

• Four active probable cases in Garland County, up three from Monday.

• 206 confirmed deaths, no change from Monday.

• 49 probable deaths, no change from Monday.

Hutchinson said almost 80% of all vaccines administered in Arkansas have gone to white Arkansans, which make up about 80% of the state's population.

The African American population, which constitutes 15% of the state's population, has been given 10% of the more than 1.2 million doses injected into Arkansans.

"That shows that we have to continue to work to overcome a historic reservation and concerns about vaccinations in the minority community," Hutchinson said.

The Health Department has deployed health equity strike teams to improve rates of vaccination in minority communities.

Dr. Michelle Smith, the director of the Health Department's Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities, said the teams have administered 12,000 doses in six counties.

They hope to inject 8,000 doses, with at least half going to minorities, this month, she said.

Vaccine hesitancy isn't limited to the African American community.

Forty percent of white Evangelical Protestants who participated in a poll The Associated Press-National Opinion Research Center for Public Affairs conducted last month said they don't plan to get vaccinated.

The rate was higher than the 25% of all Americans who don't plan to get vaccinated, and the 28% and 27% of white mainline Protestants and nonwhite Protestants who are hesitant.

Hutchinson said the state's marketing campaign isn't targeting white Evangelicals.

He said improving the overall rate of vaccination will head off rising infection curves other states are seeing.

Tuesday's rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases was 95% lower than the average's Jan. 11 peak, but Hutchinson said Arkansans are still at risk.

"We recognize based on historic patterns that could come to Arkansas," he said of other state's rising case counts.

"The only way to prevent that is to beat the spread of COVID through more vaccinations. We have to overcome resistance. We have to overcome the challenges of a rural state. Don't take it for granted that we have low cases and the restrictions have come off."

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