Governor Hutchinson Talks Increasing Cases, Receiving Testing Kits In Weekly Briefing
LITTLE ROCK – At his weekly news briefing today, Governor Asa Hutchinson discussed the state receiving at-home COVID tests and increasing case numbers.
Total active cases have doubled since last week, rising from 32,000 cases to over 64,000 cases since last Tuesday. Hospitalizations have increased by 373 since last week.
Governor Hutchinson announced that the response to this rapid increase in cases will be to expand hospital capacity. Directing $50 million from the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) was approved by the ARPA steering committee which will provide hospitals with extra funding to increase capacity temporarily while dealing with the increase of hospitalizations. This direction of funds was approved by the Arkansas Legislative Council and will now be distributed properly.
The Governor highlighted the work that National Guard has done since being deployed to help with the demand for COVID tests and pandemic response. He also noted that the state has received 211,000 of the 1.5 million at-home tests and those are being distributed around the state.
The location of where these at-home tests can be found HERE.
Governor Hutchinson also said that in response to the case increase more vaccine clinics will be available to help with the demand for vaccinations.
"Omicron is here, it is here and raging across Arkansas, but what we see from the data is this will pass through," Governor Hutchinson said, "We've got to hold the line and make sure we take the actions so we can get through January and February where we expect to see this variant diminish significantly."
Governor Hutchinson mentioned in the briefing that some national stories have circulated showing the increase of those who were hospitalized with COVID-19 but not because of COVID-19. Many hospitals around the nation have reported that a large percentage of people in the hospital who were admitted for another reason but also tested positive.
The Governor asked the Department of Health to investigate in Arkansas hospitals. He said that based on a survey of hospitals on January 4 about 30% of the patients with COVID-19 in the hospital were incidental cases. This means that about 30% of those who were in the hospital with COVID-19 went to the hospital for another reason and incidentally tested positive while being admitted.