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Arkansas National Guard to help with COVID-19 vaccinations

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Governor Hutchinson has activated 20 members of the Arkansas National Guard to assist with COVID-19 vaccinations in the state.

The governor says they will help administer the vaccines in rural areas and hopes this will reduce the workload on medical professionals.

Expanding the vaccine program to rural areas will enhance the state’s effort to end the pandemic, Secretary of Health Dr. José Romero said.

“With the assistance of the National Guard, we can better reach rural and remote Arkansans with vaccinations that protect our communities and state from COVID-19,” Dr. Romero said. “The ADH Local Health Unit staff has been working hard to provide vaccination clinics to their areas, and this assistance will allow them to do that more efficiently while continuing to provide other critical services to Arkansans.”

Romero said many have been reluctant to receive the vaccine, but he assured Arkansans they are safe and effective. Hutchinson asked that those in 1-C be patient in making their vaccine appointments.

Guard members will assist clinics in Marianna, Prescott, West Memphis, and Fort Smith.

The state moved into vaccine phase 1-C on Tuesday. Group 1-C includes almost 1 million Arkansans aged 16 to 64 who are high-risk or who are essential workers in food service, energy, finance, media, law, public safety, human services, housing, and transportation.

On Thursday, officials reported 2,734 active probable and confirmed virus cases. Those numbers were the results from 7,574 PCR tests and 1,165 antigen tests.

Virus hospitalizations are down 15 to 245. Since the pandemic hit Arkansas one year ago, 328,045 confirmed and probable cases have been reported in the state, up 264 on Thursday. There were eight more deaths linked to the virus. The top counties for new cases are Washington, 32; Benton, 31; Pulaski, 27; Polk, 22; and Faulkner, 12.

Nationwide, 29.5 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 535,217 people have died.

Out of 1,554,860 vaccines in the state, 902,891 have been distributed.

The state is currently receiving around 85,000 doses a week.

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