Governor announces COVIDComm, vaccine update at weekly press conference

FORT SMITH, Ark – Governor Asa Hutchinson updated Arkansans on vaccine distribution, testing in correctional facilities, and modifications in schools during his weekly press conference. He also announced a state-wide trauma system designed specifically for COVID-19 patients.

There are 2,141 new cases that have been reported in the state, 1,236 confirmed and 905 deemed probable. Hospitalizations are up by 20, and 26 more Arkansans have died from the disease.

At the halfway point in the month, there have been 177,00 PCR tests administered.

Arkansas hospitals began receiving the first of an anticipated 25,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.

In addition to the Pfizer vaccine, Dr. Jose Romero, Secretary of the Department of Health said they are also expecting Moderna’s vaccine soon.

The Moderna vaccine would be available for people 18 years and older, as opposed to Pfizer’s which has a lower age threshold at 16 years.

“Safety has never been compromised for any of these vaccines,” Romero said in response to concerns over the vaccines’ safety.  He noted there are at least four different ways of tracking safety signals, including allowing the public to self-report relations.

Romero also noted that the vaccine does cause redness at the injection site and may have some mild side effects.

In response to questions, Romero also said that essential personnel, including teachers, will likely be next in line to receive the vaccine after front line health care workers and nursing home residents.

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