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Ice, snow put freeze on COVID-19 numbers


New cases drop, but so do testing and vaccinations Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is urging pharmacies, hospitals and other providers in the state to schedule extra hours for coronavirus vaccinations to make up for a slowdown because of this week's snowstorms.

The state has seen a slowdown in vaccinations, testing and new coronavirus cases because of this week's winter weather. The governor also urged people who are eligible for the vaccine to make an appointment.

'It is critical to get our vaccines out as quickly as possible, and we have to catch up on the missed appointments and slow vaccine distribution over the last week,' he said in a statement. Hutchinson has said the state needs to vaccinate more people aged 70 and older before expanding the vaccine program to others.

The state Health Department on Friday reported that 498,158 of the 752,525 coronavirus vaccine doses the state has received have been given so far.

The head of the Arkansas Pharmacists Association said its network of community pharmacies is reporting they have adequate capacity to double or triple their appointment slots during the next two weeks.

Arkansas reported 284 confirmed and probable new virus cases on Monday, bringing its total since the pandemic began to 315,514. The Department of Health said COVID-19 deaths rose by 13 to 5,336 and hospitalizations increased by five to 630.

Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases in Arkansas has decreased by nearly 72%, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers. Much of that is likely due to the very ice, snow and frigid temperatures that slowed testing and vaccinations — as many Arkansans were confined to their homes due to hazardous weather conditions.

Such is the case in Crittenden County, where lower testing numbers and lower new case numbers have gone hand in hand.

On Saturday, Crittenden County saw its lowest number of new cases since July with just four new positive tests. However, two additional COVID-19 deaths were recorded last week, bringing the cumulative number of coronavirus- related fatalities in the county to 94, with 5,624 total positive cases confirmed since the beginning of the pandemic.

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