JONESBORO — The number of new cases of the coronavirus remained low Tuesday in Arkansas, but Gov. Asa Hutchinson said there is still a community spread of the virus.
The Arkansas Department of Health reported 163 new cases Tuesday, including 71 that were confirmed through lab testing. Five deaths were reported. To date at least 331,261 have contracted the disease in the state, and 1,602 cases are still active.
Hospitalizations statewide due to COVID-19 rose by seven from Monday to 152, including 26 who were on ventilators, which is an increase of three. In Northeast Arkansas, the numbers were unchanged from Monday, with 21 COVID hospitalized and two on ventilators.
Washington County reported 33 new cases Tuesday, followed by Pulaski with 23 and Benton with 17.
Craighead County had five, Greene County three, Lawrence County two and Poinsett County had one new case. Tuesday’s numbers were based on the result of 3,120 tests.
Hutchinson said during his weekly news conference it’s still important to be vaccinated, and more than 845,137 Arkansans have had at least their first dose to date..
Vaccinations among African-Americans continue to lag behind the white population, Hutchinson said.
However, Dr. Melanie Smith, the health department’s director of health equity, said an education program continues to provide equal access to vaccination sites.
“Teams are dispatched into counties that have low vaccination rates and they work with local leaders, including mayors, state representatives, church leaders and civic groups,” Smith said. The teams include health professionals and educators, public information specialists and lay leaders.
In response to a reporter’s question, Hutchinson said he would not favor a state-sanctioned “vaccine passport,” but said he wouldn’t blame private businesses if they made vaccination a condition of continued employment.
“We have drug testing, and if they have a sensitive environment, they want to make sure they have the highest quality of protections against COVID, then that’s the private sector and their right to protect their workplace.,” Hutchinson said. He used the example of the cruise lines.
“If I was going on a cruise line, I would feel more comfortable if they had an all vaccination policy,” the governor said. “That way you feel safe, so I think you have to give latitude to the private sector.”
Northeast Arkansas COVID-19 cases by county through Tuesday.
Craighead – 11,379 confirmed (up 3), 1,730 probable (up 2 from Monday), 58 active cases (up 3); 156 confirmed deaths, 19 probable.
Greene – 4,798 confirmed (up 3), 1,229 probable (unchanged); 32 active (up 2); 63 confirmed deaths, 12 probable.
Lawrence – 1,669 confirmed (unchanged), 402 probable (up 2); 5 active (unchanged); 39 confirmed deaths, 4 probable.
Poinsett – 2,718 confirmed (up 1), 401 probable (unchanged); 9 active (up 1); 61 confirmed deaths, 15 probable.
Mississippi – 5,125 confirmed, 639 probable (both unchanged); 28 active cases (down 2); 90 confirmed deaths, 16 probable.
Jackson – 2,432 confirmed, 778 probable (both unchanged); 9 active cases (unchanged); 23 confirmed deaths, 15 probable.
Randolph – 1,576 confirmed, 490 probable (both unchanged); 15 active cases (down 1); 35 confirmed deaths, 12 probable.
Cross – 1,504 confirmed (unchanged), 425 probable (up 2); 12 active cases (up 2); 46 confirmed deaths, 3 probable.
Clay – 1,329 confirmed, 394 probable (both unchanged); 2 active cases (down 1) 36 firmed deaths, 14 probable.