Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday discussed the continued need for vaccines, the Delta variant of COVID-19, precautions for July 4, the request to send Arkansas State Troopers to assist at the nation’s southern border, and the California ban on taxpayer-funded travel by state employees to Arkansas.
“We have the Fourth of July is coming up,” Hutchinson said. “My caution to all Arkansans is, yes, you’re going to travel, yes, you’re going to the lake, yes, you’re going to have your backyard cookout and celebrations. I’ll be joining in that as well. But if you are not vaccinated, then please take the responsibility to take care of yourself. Don’t add to the spread of the virus. We have the Delta variant moving into Arkansas. We have to take that very seriously. It’s more contagious. It has more health consequences. Follow the guidelines, which are social distancing and wearing a mask if you have not been vaccinated.”
There have been 3,765 Arkansans hospitalized since January 26, 2021, and 98.3 percent of those were not immunized. 90.5 percent of current cases are not fully immunized. There have been 988 deaths, and 99.6 percent of them were not immunized.
Vaccinations by County
Top Five: Bradley, Desha, Washington, Pulaski, Benton
Bottom 5: Calhoun, Lafayette, Lincoln, Fulton, Miller
• Every nursing home in America is required to submit a weekly report of the number of COVID-19 vaccinations administered to residents and staff.
• In Arkansas, 78.5 percent of residents and 57 percent of staff in facilities have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
• Two Arkansas facilities – Highlands of Bella Vista Health and Rehabilitation and Colonel Glenn Health and Rehabilitation – have reached 100 percent staff vaccinations.
• Arkansas’ percentage of vaccinated residents is the highest among states in the region. We beat Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
• The percentage of vaccinated staff in Arkansas also is the highest in the region.
• The high vaccination rate has led to a drastic decline in COVID cases within Arkansas facilities.
• The diligence of the Arkansas Healthcare Association and Arkansas nursing homes allows more visits from family members and friends, and more activities for residents.
Arkansas National Guard Deployment to Texas
Gov. Hutchinson in a previous news release announced that he has authorized a 90-day deployment of up to 40 members of the Arkansas National Guard to Texas to assist with security at the state’s border with Mexico.
“I have authorized this mission in response to an official request from Texas on the urgent matter at our southern border,” Hutchinson said. “My hope is that our 90 days of support will improve the security of our country and reduce the adverse impact of illegal immigration on Arkansas.”
The 90-day deployment will be consistent with a training mission for the National Guard.
California Travel Ban to Arkansas
Hutchinson also commented on the California Attorney General’s ban on state employees flying to Arkansas on taxpayer money because of certain laws he deems unacceptable.
“While state employees may be barred from traveling here on state money, Californians are fleeing by the thousands to places such as Arkansas for our lower taxes, lower cost of living, and abundant opportunities,” Hutchinson said. “The lure of our state parks and quality of life will overcome any edict from the California Attorney General.”
California Attorney General Rob Bonta recently added Arkansas, Florida, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia to the list of places where California state-funded travel is banned because of laws that discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community. The list now includes 17 states where state employee travel is forbidden except under limited circumstances. The 12 other states on the list are Texas, Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.