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COVID-19 update: State expands booster eligibility

by David Showers | November 16, 2021 at 4:03 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

The state's infection curve rose for the fifth time in six days Monday. Over the weekend, active cases surpassed 5,000 for the first time in three weeks.

"We are starting to see what looks like a trend upward in the final days of last week," Dr. Jose Romero, the state's secretary of health, said during the state's weekly press update Monday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson noted the rising infection curve has not been accompanied by an increase in hospitalizations, which remained below 300 Monday for the 11th-consecutive day.

"While I'm concerned about the cases, because that interrupts education, it interrupts work, it interrupts life, the infections in and of themselves are not helpful to a rebounding community that wants to come out of the pandemic, but we're in a much better position than we were before, because our active cases are way down, our hospitalizations are way down and our vaccinations are up," Hutchinson said. "While we want to sound an alert to everyone that we still have to get through the winter, we do want to put it in perspective, because we're in a much better position because our vaccination is out."

New Arkansas Department of Health recommendations for boosters Hutchinson announced Monday makes everyone 18 and older eligible for third shots of Pfizer and Moderna's messenger RNA vaccines six months after they received their second shot. The announcement broadened eligibility recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"This is a change in policy that we're implementing here in Arkansas," Hutchinson said. "I think it eliminates some confusion. It should be a much simpler process. We want to make sure it's easy and accessible for everyone to get their booster shot with the minimum burden and confusion."

As a service to our readers, The Sentinel-Record publishes updates released by the city of Hot Springs and the state of Arkansas.

The Arkansas Department of Health is no longer reporting confirmed and probable cases separately. The following stats were posted Monday on the Health Department's website:

• 519,911 cumulative cases, up 151 from Sunday.

• 503.57 rolling seven-day average of new cases, up 1.43 from Sunday.

• 4,163,788 PCR test reports, up 2,913 from Sunday.

• 9.2% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Sunday.

• 4,785 active cases, down 351 from Sunday.

• 1,359 active juvenile cases, down 124 from Sunday.

• 506,401 recoveries, up 490 from Sunday.

• 4,297,860 vaccine doses received, down 1,900 from Sunday.

• 3,281,407 doses given, up 2,769 from Sunday.

• 282 hospitalizations, no change from Sunday.

• 59 cases on ventilators, up one from Sunday.

• 119 ICU patients, down six from Sunday.

• 8,579 deaths, up 12 from Sunday.

• 2,260 nursing home deaths, up one from Sunday.

• 16,093 cumulative cases in Garland County, up one from Sunday.

• 8.57 rolling seven-day average of new cases, no change from Sunday.

• 162,945 PCR and antigen test reports, up 56 from Sunday.

• 10.2% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Sunday.

• 73 active cases in Garland County, down five from Sunday.

• 15,622 recoveries in Garland County, up six from Sunday.

• 398 deaths, up one from Sunday.

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