Officials continue to promote vaccinations as active cases decline.
Today marks the tenth day in a row the Arkansas Department of Health has reported a decrease in active COVID-19 cases. Hospitalizations are trending downward as are new daily cases; however, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said there’s cause for concern when observing COVID-related deaths.
During his weekly update on the pandemic today, Hutchinson compared the state’s death toll to projections from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and found that over the course of the last month, reported deaths have often outpaced predictions.
“While our cases are lower than the projection and while the hospitalizations are down, you can see that our deaths are meeting or exceeding actually the projection and this is troublesome because it shows the seriousness of the virus, the Delta variant is very serious,” Hutchinson said.
ADH reported 17 more deaths today and 1,401 new positive cases. Active cases have decreased by 779 to 14,225 statewide. Children 12 to 18 years of age account for about 27 percent of active cases. Nearly 37 percent of this age group are fully vaccinated, 48 percent have received at least one dose.
Pfizer has released the results of a study that involved testing its COVID-19 vaccine on children 5 to 11 years old. Participants were given one-third the dose adminstered to adults and results appear to be “extremely promising, eliciting a very robust response immunologically in these children,” Health Secretary Dr. José Romero said.
The data is expected to be submitted soon to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for review. Officials will then decide whether or not to approve the Pfizer vaccine for use in children ages 5 to 11. An FDA panel last week voted to recommend a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine for individuals 65 years of age and older as well as people at high risk of severe COVID-19. Additional clarity on the recommendation is expected in the coming days, Hutchinson said.
In the meantime, the governor intends to stay focused on vaccinating Arkansans who are currently eligible. Daily vaccinations are averaging around 7,000 doses daily and Hutchinson said vaccinating more people will be important for preventing another surge in cases during the winter.
“The best assurance that we can keep it down would be increasing that vaccination rate even to a higher extent that prepares us for the winter, and so I hope that we can keep the focus on that,” Hutchinson said. “I’m going to do everything I can to continue that effort because I do believe that is long term the way we can get down and keep them down.”
More information about vaccinations is available on the Arkansas Department of Health’s website.