COVID-19 Immunizations Continue Despite Inclement Weather

Arkansans are still seeking vaccinations as the state deals with a winter storm.

Thousands of Arkansans are braving the bitter cold and navigating snow-covered streets to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations. 

“Even with the terrible weather yesterday, we gave out 3,342 doses which tells me the demand is there, people are looking for their opportunity to get their vaccination,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during his weekly pandemic briefing Tuesday.

Due to additional inclement weather expected this week, the governor extended his deployment of the Arkansas National Guard through Friday. As part of this effort, 100 guardsmen have been deployed, 26 Humvees have been engaged and two ambulance crews have been authorized to assist emergency workers. The state is under a winter storm warning with additional snow expected through Thursday morning.

“What we’re seeing in Arkansas is the most severe weather event I’ve seen in my lifetime,” Hutchinson said. “This is plaguing not just our state, but also our region.”

The inclement weather has impacted testing, with the Arkansas Department of Health only reporting about 2,200 new PCR and antigen test results. Active cases dropped below 10,000 for the first time in months after a decrease of nearly 1,400.

Vaccine distribution will continue to be impacted this week, but Gov. Hutchinson said the state can look forward to an increase in doses. During a call with governors yesterday, the White House coronavirus task force announced the national supply of vaccines allocated to the states will be increased by 2.5 million doses. 

“This is the largest weekly increase yet of our vaccines since our vaccine program was started,” Hutchinson said. “For Arkansas, this will mean an additional 6,000 to 7,000 doses per week. This is good news.”

The governor expects to receive the extra doses either this week or next. Meanwhile, Health Secretary Dr. José Romero said a new, single-dose vaccine is expected to be considered for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this month.

“So we will be having more vaccine in the future as per the CDC and the FDA,” Romero said. 

During yesterday’s update, the governor also announced revisions to some of the state’s COVID-19 directives. Large indoor and outdoor events can now have up to 100 attendees without submitting a plan to ADH. The school and community sports directive has been amended to allow competitions with two or more teams, but plans must be submitted to and approved by.

Details are available at the Department of Health’s website.

Antoinette Grajeda
Antoinette Grajeda

Antoinette Grajeda is Editor-in-Chief of Arkansas Soul, the host of the Affirmative Action podcast and a Northwest Arkansas-based journalist. She has covered race, culture, politics, health, education and the arts in Arkansas for nearly 15 years.