Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday that a special session to discuss a proposed tax reduction bill and other issues will begin on December 7.

“I spoke today with both the Speaker of the House and Senate Pro Tem and they confirmed that we have more than a majority vote on the tax bills to have that passed,” Hutchinson said.

Other issues include moving some restricted reserve funds, an insulin bill, LLC bill, appropriation bill, a tax appeals commission, and others.

Covid-19 and Omicron variant

Hutchinson said there are a lot of unknowns surrounding the Omicron variant, but scientists and public health officials are working to learn more. Early questions include, could Omicron be more transmissible than other variants, and how severe could it potentially be?

He said that hopefully data that is being evaluated will tell us if vaccines will work well to protect against the new variant.

In his Covid-19 update, Hutchinson said Arkansas Covid-19 cases rose by 335 and 12 more deaths were added. He said new cases for Tuesday were up by 1,044, adding that that this is the first time new cases have been that high since September. Hospitalizations for Covid-19 are up by 19 and patients on ventilators have risen by eight. He said 12,969 new doses of the vaccine have been given.

“I’m very pleased that 35.9 percent are first doses which means that over 4,000 going in for the first time starting the vaccination process,” Hutchinson said. “20.7 percent are second doses, and 43 percent are third doses which are all good signs on the vaccination front.”

Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said during the briefing that 30 percent of the new cases are occurring in the 5-18-year-old group and encouraged getting vaccines to those of that age group.

“It’s important that parents realize that this virus does affect children, it can have long-term consequences, and vaccines are available, and we are encouraging them to get their children vaccinated,” Dr. Romero said.

Secretary of Arkansas Department of Education Johnny Key also gave a report on school cases of Covid-19. He said Monday’s report showed 705 active cases of Covid-19 in Arkansas school districts. He said that it was about 500 fewer than last week, but due to Thanksgiving break that may not be an accurate representation of active cases in schools.

Watch the full briefing: