Secretary of State John Thurston said Monday that he won't require his employees to be vaccinated, joining other state constitutional officeholders who've voiced opposition to federal vaccine mandates President Joe Biden announced last week.
The Legislature passed a law earlier this year that prohibits the state and local governments from requiring their employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
"I will not require secretary of state employees to be vaccinated," Thurston said in a news release. "Nor will I require proof of negative COVID tests. Citizens who wish to come to visit our beautiful state Capitol will also not be required to be vaccinated."
The new federal 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.
"Last week we saw, what I would consider being, massive federal overreach by the Biden administration in mandating vaccinations," Thurston said. "This comes despite his statement in December that vaccines shouldn't be mandated. I am a strong believer in personal freedoms and that each individual has the right to their own health decisions."
Healthy Connections Community Health Network is accepting antibody treatment referrals for high-risk patients, according to a news release it issued Monday. Healthy Connections will be administering Regeneron infusions or injections at 3604 Central Ave., Suite D. More information is available by calling 479-437-3300 or going to https://healthy-connections.org/monoclonal.
High-risk people with active infections or who've been exposed to an infected person are eligible for the treatment.
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:
• 475,647 cumulative cases, up 646 from Sunday.
• 1,559.29 rolling seven-day average of new cases, down 41.57 from Sunday.
• 3,763,978 PCR test reports, up 4,782 from Sunday.
• 9.4% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Sunday.
• 17,821 active cases, down 1,767 from Sunday.
• 5,398 active juvenile cases, down 669 from Sunday.
• 450,414 recoveries, up 2,382 from Sunday.
• 3,637,540 vaccine doses received, no change from Sunday.
• 2,800,432 doses given, up 2,650 from Sunday.
• 1,113 hospitalizations, down five from Sunday.
• 286 cases on ventilators, down one from Sunday.
• 443 ICU patients, down 17 from Sunday.
• 7,298 deaths, up 31 from Sunday.
• 2,178 nursing home deaths, up two from Sunday.
• 15,122 cumulative cases in Garland County, up 25 from Sunday.
• 40.86 rolling seven-day average of new cases, down 0.43 from Sunday.
• 149,062 PCR and antigen test reports, up 153 from Sunday.
• 10.3% cumulative PCR infection rate, up from 10.2% Sunday.
• 434 active cases in Garland County, down 38 from Sunday.
• 14,336 recoveries in Garland County, up 60 from Sunday.
• 352 deaths, up three from Sunday.