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:
• 261,604 cumulative confirmed cases, up 132 from Monday.
• 129.71 rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases, up 2.14 from Monday.
• 2,934,469 PCR test reports, up 3,820 from Monday.
• 8.9% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Monday.
• 72,105 cumulative probable cases, up 66 from Monday.
• 15.5% cumulative antigen infection rate, down from 15.6% Monday.
• 1,804 active confirmed and probable cases, up 15 from Monday.
• 326,145 recoveries of confirmed and probable cases, up 176 from Monday.
• 2,291,620 vaccine doses received, up 29,490 from Monday.
• 1,558,345 doses given, up 19,583 from Monday.
• 177 hospitalizations, up 13 from Monday.
• 24 cases on a ventilator, up two from Monday.
• 62 ICU patients, up seven from Monday.
• 4,530 confirmed deaths, up five from Monday.
• 1,176 probable deaths, up two from Monday.
• 2,071 nursing home deaths, up one from Monday.
• 8,486 cumulative confirmed cases in Garland County, no change from Monday.
• 2.86 rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases, up 0.15 from Monday.
• 114,265 PCR and antigen test reports, up 199 from Monday.
• 86,353 private lab reports, up 198 from Monday.
• 27,912 public lab reports, up one from Monday.
• 8.6% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Monday.
• 21 active confirmed cases in Garland County, down one from Monday
• 8,255 recoveries of confirmed cases in Garland County, down one from Monday.
• 1,596 cumulative probable cases in Garland County, no change from Monday.
• 210 confirmed deaths, up three from Monday.
• 49 probable deaths, no change from Monday.
The national heat map Hutchinson presented illustrated where new infections are rising. Arkansas wasn't shaded red, as areas in the Rust Belt and Northeast were, but Hutchinson said vaccine hesitancy could move the state into the red.
"We are doing well in comparison with our surrounding states," he said. "The concern is we could look like the northern part of the United States or the Northeast if we do not continue to get vaccinated. That's the key to our success."
Hutchinson said more than 40% of the state's adult population has received at least one dose of vaccine, with 27.5% fully vaccinated. The Hispanic population has the highest rates of vaccination, with 55.8% of its adult population fully vaccinated. Almost half of the state's white adult population is fully vaccinated, and 45.1% of its adult African American population is fully vaccinated.
"If you looked at that one month ago, there was a 9.5% difference between African Americans and the white population," Hutchinson said. "We closed the gap to 4%. That is good news. I think it reflects the good work of the Department of Health, our community partners and our churches."
Hutchinson called for more people in the 18-to-64 age group to get vaccinated. Twenty percent are fully vaccinated and 13.6% are partially vaccinated.
"Those are the people who believe they're very healthy," he said. "They're very busy, and they put it off. They say, 'We can do it later.' We need you to get vaccinated for the good of the state, for the good of the community and your own health."
Hutchinson said the state's vaccine hesitancy is a function of its Southern heritage and rural character, cultural obstacles that need to be overcome on the road to herd immunity.
"We're below the national average," he said. "I think part of it is just some natural resistance in the South, in a rural state. I believe it's a greater challenge in the Southern states and the rural states. We're going to have to be going out to where the people are and make it as convenient as possible for them."
Hospitalizations have risen 20% in the last week, climbing to their highest level since March 25.
"The worrisome point is the hospital data is up by 13," Hutchinson, referring to Tuesday's net increase in hospitalizations, said. "With the level of testing we're doing you can have somebody who does not report as a case but they'll end up as a hospitalization because they get ill.
"That 13 jump, we're going to continue to watch that. It's a reminder we do have the virus in our community and that we have to be careful and get vaccinated."