News & Media
LITTLE ROCK – Nearly 100 people attended Governor Asa Hutchinson’s first Community COVID Conversation, which he held in the Veterans Park Events Center in Cabot on Thursday night.
Governor Hutchinson launched the statewide “listening” tour in response to the recent dramatic increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases in Arkansas and the low vaccination rate. He will lead four more events next week.
“This is a chance for me to hear your concerns and ideas,” the Governor said. “It’s a chance for me to continue to encourage people to get vaccinated. This is the challenge we face. A month ago, the number of our active COVID cases and our hospitalizations had declined. We were increasing our vaccinations across the state. We were very optimistic about the return to normalcy.
“Then over the past month, our vaccination rate stalled at about 40 percent, and the Delta variant showed up. This right-left punch has sidetracked our return to normalcy.”
The Delta variant is more contagious than the original COVID-19 virus, and the symptoms are worse. All three of the available vaccines will protect against COVID. The antibodies from a previous case of COVID do not protect against the variant, and health experts advise those who have contracted COVID get a vaccine. The vaccine reduces the symptoms in those who do catch it, and 90 percent of those aren’t hospitalized. The vaccine cuts the chance of death to almost zero.
Arkansas has chosen the path of personal responsibility over government rules, Governor Hutchinson told the audience. “The state is wide open. We aren’t mandating masks or vaccinations. We know what we must do, and for the most part, Arkansans have done the hard. work. The big task before us now is to vaccinate more Arkansans.”
Next week, Governor Hutchinson will hold Community COVID Conversations on Monday in Batesville; on Tuesday in Blytheville and Forrest City; and Thursday in Texarkana. He also will address the need for vaccinations at previously scheduled events in Northwest Arkansas.
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