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Arkansans continue covid-19 recovery; active cases fall Sunday to 5,427

by Neal Earley | October 25, 2021 at 7:10 a.m.
Jodie Sewell of Bentonville self-administers a nasal swab during a mass covid-19 screening at the Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville in this June 26, 2020, file photo. The college provided the facility and volunteers. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, or UAMS, also provided volunteers, as did Mercy Hospital. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)

The state's number of active covid-19 cases has fallen to its lowest level since July 6, the Arkansas Department of Health reported Sunday.

Reporting on Arkansans who have contracted the coronavirus but who are not yet considered recovered, the Health Department said there were 5,427 cases of covid-19 on Sunday, down 210 from the previous day and down 1,142 from the previous week.

The number of active cases has not been lower since July 6, when 5,192 cases were reported. By July 9, the Health Department was reporting more than 6,000 active cases each day, only falling back below that number on Oct. 18.

[DOCUMENT: Read CNN's transcript of Hutchinson's appearance on "State of the Union" »]

The covid-19 numbers reported on Sunday also showed a slight increase in the number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus. The Health Department said 391 Arkansans were hospitalized with covid-19 as of Sunday, up five from Saturday. However, 391 is still the second fewest number of hospitalizations in the state since July 6.

The state reported 14 additional covid-19 deaths, raising the state's official tally of coronavirus deaths since March 2020 to 8,281. Four fewer people were on ventilators as of Sunday, lowering the total to 116.

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The Health Department reported an additional 246 new cases of covid-19 Sunday. Pulaski County led the state with the most cases added with 23, followed by 22 in Washington County and 16 in Benton County. There were 64 active cases in correctional facilities, the Health Department reported.

Arkansas has reported 510,245 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. Of those, 496,402 are considered recovered.

In a tweet Sunday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Sunday's covid-19 numbers showed a continued decline in the pandemic, but he emphasized the need for more people to get vaccinated.

"Our COVID numbers continue to move in the right direction," he said. "Last year, we saw a large increase in cases and hospitalizations in the winter months. Let's get vaccinated so we can avoid that as we get closer to winter."

Hutchinson also appeared on CNN Sunday morning to talk about the state's low vaccination numbers.

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Arkansas' vaccination rate still lags behind much of the country, with 54.2% of Arkansans 12 and up being fully vaccinated, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. While the Health Department reported Sunday there were an additional 4,689 doses of the vaccine given, Hutchinson said the numbers are still too low.

Responding to a question from CNN anchor Jake Tapper about the state's low vaccination rate, Hutchinson blamed federal mandates for increasing resistance to vaccines.

"The resistance is hard in some areas and part of it is simply because of the controversy because of the mandates -- it deepens the resistance," Hutchinson said. "So that's something we have to overcome, but I don't see that controversy going away any time soon."

[VACCINE INFO: See the latest information on covid-19 vaccines in Arkansas »]

When asked whether he would impose a vaccine mandate on state employees, Hutchinson said a mandate would "probably increase vaccination rates, but would increase the resistance of some."

While Hutchinson had been critical of federal mandates requiring some businesses to get their employees vaccinated, he has also been critical of attempts by the state Legislature to ban local governments and businesses from putting in vaccine and mask mandates.

With federal regulators still studying whether the vaccine should be approved for children under the age of 12, Hutchinson was asked about whether schools in Arkansas would mandate it for students.

[How is the coronavirus affecting you in Arkansas? Tell us here »]

Tapper prefaced his question by saying the state already requires proof of vaccination for diseases such as polio, measles and chickenpox, asking Hutchinson if he would support adding the covid-19 vaccine to that list.

"There may be a time in the future that you would want to mandate that in the schools, but that time is not now," Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson said mandating a covid-19 vaccine in the future would depend on "public acceptance of the vaccine," and the severity of the pandemic.

[Interactive Arkansas map not showing up above? Click here to see it:]

Print Headline: State's active covid cases lowest since July


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