Rising COVID-19 cases could get worse due to holidays, Gov. Hutchinson says

WATCH: Rising COVID-19 cases could get worse due to holidays, Gov. Hutchinson says

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — COVID-19 cases in Arkansas are still rising and Governor Asa Hutchinson says it could get worse.

Even with social distancing and people sitting six feet apart, cases of coronavirus are still showing up in record numbers in Arkansas.

“January is going to be a tough month, and even though we’ve had the increase from Christmas and even before that, Thanksgiving in increasing cases, all indications are that increasing cases that cases could go up again in January as a result of all of the activity through the holidays,” said Gov. Hutchinson.

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That’s why Hutchinson met with hospital staff Tuesday to talk about ways to expand their capacity for ICU beds.

The state is seeing record numbers of hospitalizations, and vaccine supplies are limited, causing a slower rollout. The goal is to finish the first round of vaccinations by the end of this month.

“It has some logistic challenges,” said Hutchinson. “The pharmacies, as they go into the long term care facilities, have to have consents, they have to have some training. That’s done, and so it’s slower than we would like, but it’s going to accelerate.”

West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon is concerned about COVID-19 cases spiking again and not having enough vaccines or hospital beds.

He said he knows the impact of covid firsthand. His mother had a severe case a month ago. His cousin died from COVID-19 a week after McClendon’s mother was in the hospital.

“It has really affected my family personally,” McClendon said. “That’s why I stand by doing everything I need to do get the vaccine and make sure I stress to my people. I told them one time to stay at home, and if I have to give that message again I will.”

State leaders say the virus has been active in every county. That’s why they’re stressing mask-wearing and social distancing.

The Arkansas Department of Health reports nearly 38,000 vaccine doses have been given out across the state.

That’s only 28 percent of the doses the state has received.

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