Jun 16, 2022 - News

Where things stand in Arkansas with COVID-19

Illustration of a pattern of covid particles and positive signs turning into each other.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Arkansas.

By the numbers: The state Department of Health reported an increase of 2,087 active cases over a one-week period ending Tuesday, compared to an increase of 1,289 the week prior and 507 the week before that.

  • Hospitalizations also increased by 110 in the past two weeks, putting the total at 186. The state added only four hospitalizations during the week ending May 31.

Context: While Arkansas has seen more than 1,800 hospitalizations at one time — back in January — this is the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations the state has had since March.

The big picture: New Omicron strains capable of evading immune protections and causing breakthrough infections now account for more than 21% of total COVID cases in the U.S., Axios' Adriel Bettelheim writes.

  • The BA.2 and BA.2.12.1 variants that dominated the disease map this spring now account for about 78% of cases. The new lineages aren't associated with more severe disease, but they are likely evade antibodies from earlier Omicron infections.

What you can do: The CDC recommends a booster shot for everyone at least five months after being fully vaccinated and a second booster for those who are immunocompromised or older than 50.

State of play: As far as second boosters for people who don't meet that criteria, the Arkansas Pharmacists Association recommends that pharmacies in Arkansas stick to the CDC guidance, CEO John Vinson told Axios.

  • However, Vinson said he's sure some people have received second boosters regardless. He clarified that pharmacies are not legally prohibited from giving second boosters and do have some discretion, such as if a patient says they or their doctor feel they need a second booster.

What's next: Kids as young as 6 months may soon be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

  • An FDA advisory committee on Wednesday voted to recommend the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines receive emergency use authorization for the little ones. Right now, kids must be at least 5.
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