Gov. Asa Hutchinson said federal vaccine requirements President Joe Biden announced Thursday could undermine confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine.
"We're not going to increase vaccination rates by more mandates from the government," he said Friday during a national TV interview. "We're going to have to build confidence in our communities ... I think (mandates) can have just the opposite impact and be detrimental in terms of our businesses, how they operate."
The new rules require employers with more than 100 workers to mandate vaccines or weekly tests for their workforce, a requirement the federal government will enforce through the Department of Labor's jurisdiction over the workplace. Workers at health care facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements will have to be fully vaccinated, as will executive branch employees and employees of contractors that do business with the federal government.
Hutchinson said requiring health care workers to be fully vaccinated was more rational than the broader mandate affecting businesses with 100 or more workers. He said keeping vaccines voluntary and allowing businesses to decide if they want to require that their employees be vaccinated could improve vaccine acceptance as effectively as federal mandates.
"I think we could be there on a voluntary basis just as quickly," he said. "We're moving that way nationally and on the state level. The consensus is this could build more resistance."
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 Friday on the Health Department's website:
• 472,136 cumulative cases, up 2,159 from Thursday.
• 1,681.86 rolling seven-day average of new cases, up 4.29 from Thursday.
• 3,739,596 PCR test reports, up 13,212 from Thursday.
• 9.4% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Thursday.
• 19,742 active cases, up 28 from Thursday.
• 6,319 active juvenile cases, up 97 from Thursday.
• 445,081 recoveries, up 2,101 from Thursday.
• 3,607,300 vaccine doses received, up 18,320 from Thursday.
• 2,783,674 doses given, up 8,189 from Thursday.
• 1,149 hospitalizations, down 45 from Thursday.
• 316 cases on ventilators, up one from Thursday.
• 476 ICU patients, down 32 from Thursday.
• 7,199 deaths, up 30 from Thursday.
• 2,165 nursing home deaths, up six from Thursday.
• 15,056 cumulative cases in Garland County, up 59 from Thursday.
• 52.28 rolling seven-day average of new cases, up 1.57 from Thursday..
• 148,248 PCR and antigen test reports, up 361 from Thursday.
• 10.3% cumulative PCR infection rate, up from 10.2% Thursday.
• 515 active cases in Garland County, down 10 from Thursday.
• 14,197 recoveries in Garland County, up 68 from Thursday.
• 344 deaths, up one from Thursday.