Delta variant major concern for Arkansas leaders as COVID-19 hospitalizations increase

ARKANSAS — COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise in Arkansas and health officials say this is the highest number of hospitalizations since January!

During the state’s weekly briefing, new data show 55 more people hospitalized with COVID-19 with another 10 on ventilators.

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“This is the most significant we’ve had really when you look at the fact that we have vaccines to prevent this and these would have been much worse at an earlier time,” said Dr. Jose Romero, Arkansas Secretary of Health.

State officials said the new, highly transmissible Delta variant is a major factor in the rise in hospitalizations. Some studies suggest this variant has double the risk of hospitalizations.

“You can see the growth of the Delta variant as compared to all the other variants in Arkansas,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson.

From the end of May to July 5, Hutchinson said the Delta variant has become the most dominant strain in the state followed by the UK variant and the Brazilian variant.

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Hutchinson said most of the people hospitalized weren’t vaccinated.

“It’s 98-99 percent of those who are hospitalized haven’t been vaccinated, that’s extraordinary so if you don’t want to go to the hospital, get vaccinated,” said Hutchinson.

Hutchinson urged employers to offer paid time off to workers to get the vaccine.

He said the state will help them set up vaccine clinics at job sites as well.