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COVID-19 update: State's vaccine allotment to increase

February 17, 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:

• 248,445 cumulative confirmed cases, up 94 from Monday.

• 458.86 rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases, down 103.71 from Monday.

• 2,589,008 PCR test reports, up 1,702 from Monday.

• 9.6% cumulative PCR test reports, no change from Monday.

• 658,000 vaccine doses received, no change from Monday.

• 458,431 vaccine doses given, up 3,342 from Monday.

• 65,080 cumulative probable cases, up 83 from Monday.

• 18.4% cumulative antigen infection rate, down from 18.6% Monday.

• 9,104 active confirmed and probable cases, down 1,390 from Monday.

• 299,107 recoveries of confirmed and probable cases, up 1,555 from Monday.

• 638 hospitalizations, down four from Monday.

• 110 cases on a ventilator, down one from Monday.

• 250 ICU admissions, up six from Monday.

• 4,233 confirmed deaths, up 11 from Monday.

• 1,054 probable deaths, up one from Monday.

• 1,995 nursing home deaths, up two from Monday.

• 7,913 cumulative confirmed cases in Garland County, up six from Monday.

• 24 rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases, down 6.86 from Monday.

• 93,475 PCR and antigen test reports, up 241 from Monday.

• 69,363 private lab reports, up 241 from Monday.

• 24,112 public lab reports, no change from Monday.

• 9.7% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Monday.

• 310 active confirmed cases in Garland County, down 53 from Monday.

• 7,413 recoveries of confirmed cases in Garland County, up 57 from Monday.

• 1,424 cumulative probable cases in Garland County, up two from Monday.

• 94 active probable cases in Garland County, down 11 from Monday.

• 188 confirmed deaths, no change from Monday.

• 39 probable deaths, no change from Monday.

The White House Coronavirus Taskforce announced Tuesday that the population-based vaccine allocation to states will increase by 2.5 million doses a week, an amount Hutchinson said will increase the state's weekly allocation by 7,000 doses.

The state hasn't received any doses since Friday, according to information posted on the Arkansas Department of Health website.

"That's the largest weekly increase yet of our vaccines since our vaccine program started," Hutchinson said. "We are expecting to receive increased doses this week or next week."

The White House Task Force announced that vaccines the federal government provides directly to pharmacies through the National Retail Pharmacy Program will double. Hutchinson said Walmart pharmacies will receive more doses. About 60 of its stores in Arkansas were allotted 11,600 doses from the pharmacy program's initial allocation.

Hutchinson and the National Governors Association have advocated for more doses to be routed through the states rather than pharmacies, noting that the state has administered 70% of the more than 650,000 doses it's received. That's about twice the rate at which Walgreens and CVS pharmacies in Arkansas have administered the doses they received through a federal contract to vaccinate nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

"We are doing a good job getting vaccinations out," he said. "All we need is a greater supply. We're going to do it well in terms of efficiency and in terms of equity, getting it to the rural areas of the state. We want new supply to come to the state so we can get our job done.

"I'm very supportive of the relationship with Walmart because they're doing a good job. We have the partnership at the state level with our local community pharmacies. They're doing a good job. We don't want the federal government creating new pathways for the vaccines to flow outside of the direction of the state."

Hutchinson said the low number of new infections reported Tuesday should be viewed in the context of Monday's snowstorm. The 94 new polymerase chain reaction-confirmed cases reported Tuesday were the fewest since the early days of the pandemic.

"It's not very significant in terms of meaning, because you can see the testing was so depleted with the bad weather, having only about 2,200 tests that were given," he said. "One statistic you can continue to measure that's more constant, that's not dependent on the weather, is hospitalizations."

Hospitalizations remained below 700 for the fourth-straight day Tuesday, falling to their lowest point since late October.

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