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Vaccine eligibility expanded to all in 1-B

Nine new local COVID cases reported by Caitlan Butler | March 8, 2021 at 8:30 p.m.
Governor Hutchinson addresses the media during a press conference on Monday, March 8. He announced that he was making everyone in vaccine eligibility phase 1-B eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine effective immediately. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Stephen Swofford)

There were nine new COVID-19 cases reported Monday in Union County, bringing the cumulative total of cases identified locally to 3,786, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

Six of the new cases were confirmed cases, determined by positive PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, of which 2,867 have been identified locally. Probable cases made up three of the new ones reported Monday; they are determined by positive antigen (rapid) tests and 919 have been identified in the county.

Active cases grew by two Monday to reach 47; they represented 1.2% of all the cases identified locally and included 39 confirmed cases and eight probable cases. There were 3,638 Union County residents considered recovered from the virus Monday, up seven from Sunday.

In the Southwest hospital region of the state, where Union County sits, 82,988 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered by Monday; 13.4% of residents in the region had been fully vaccinated against the virus, and 7.4% had at least gotten their first vaccine dose.

There were 43 people hospitalized Monday in the Southwest hospital region, including 23 in intensive care units and nine on ventilator support.

No new local deaths caused by the virus were reported Monday. A total of 101 Union County residents have died as a result of the virus.

The ADH reported 101 new negative COVID-19 test results returned from Union County Monday. In total, 30,395 results have returned from the county, including 26,609 negatives, indicating an overall local positivity rate of 12.5%.

Arkansas added 133 new COVID-19 cases Monday to its cumulative total, which reached 324,951. The cases in the state included 255,836 confirmed cases, up 110 from Sunday, and 69,115 probable cases, up 23 from Sunday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson held a press conference Monday morning where he announced that everyone in vaccine eligibility category 1-B would be eligible for vaccination immediately.

The announcement adds about 180,000 Arkansans to the vaccination eligibility rolls, he said, and will help to achieve his goal of having everyone in category 1-B vaccinated by the end of the month.

“Over the weekend, we had some great mass clinics … and we noticed that we did not have the demand that we anticipated, which indicates that either people are getting the vaccinations in different places, we’re getting more of them covered; but, it also could simply indicate that there’s some resistance to the vaccines,” Hutchinson said. “We have to keep the demand for the vaccines up. We have to keep the lines full, because people want access to those vaccines and we want to make sure we get them out as fast as we can.”

Additionally, people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, who were originally included in vaccine eligibility category 1-C, will also now be eligible for vaccination, Hutchinson announced.

“They’re a very vulnerable population that is susceptible to the virus and we want to have them covered,” he said. “It’s a small number (of people), relatively speaking, and we’ve already vaccinated many of them because they are housed in a facility for (people with) intellectual or developmental disabilities.”

The governor also announced that the ADH now has a call center that can assist Arkansans in finding a vaccine provider or scheduling an appointment at a mass vaccination clinic. The toll free number to call for assistance is 1-800-985-6030.

Mass vaccination clinics are scheduled in each public health region of Arkansas this week and next.

In the Southwest region, on March 12, one such clinic will be held at the Fordyce Civic Center, 300 Highway 79-167 Bypass, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; a second clinic in the Southwest region is scheduled for March 18 at the Ouachita County Local Health Unit, 740 California Avenue in Camden, from 8 a.m. to noon.

“Today, you can call that number and get assistance you need. There will be translation services available and they can schedule appointments for a Department of Health vaccination clinic,” Hutchinson said. “If you’re looking to go to your local pharmacy to get a vaccination or to another clinic that’s out there, we can help guide you to the right one, but you’ll still have to make the call and make that appointment. We can give you the list and we can help navigate you to the right provider to make that appointment.”

Once someone is vaccinated, if they have added their name to multiple vaccination waiting lists, they should call the provider who did not administer their vaccine to remove their name from the waiting list, Hutchinson said. That way, pharmacies won’t have to make multiple calls to find someone to take an open appointment.

”It saves a lot of the work if you take your name off the system,” Hutchinson said.

He and ADH Secretary Dr. Jose Romero urged Arkansans to get vaccinated as soon as they’re able. Romero noted that the United States Centers for Disease Control released new guidance for people vaccinated against COVID, including allowing for gatherings with people outside their home and a loosening of quarantine guidelines. He said he would discuss the new guidance more at the weekly COVID-19 update scheduled this afternoon.

“If it’s your turn to get a vaccine, one, be patient because we’re adding 180,000, and we’ll have over 100,000 doses this week we can administer so we’ll move through them pretty quickly … We should be on target to get through all these vaccinations in 1-B by my goal of the end of March,” Hutchinson said. “Please get your vaccine. If it’s your turn, get it. When we have a clinic, we want all of those slots filled up.”

The number of active cases in the state fell by 374 Monday to reach 3,593; they represented 1.1% of all the cases in the state and included 2,657 confirmed cases and 936 probable cases. There were 316,000 Arkansans considered recovered from the virus Monday, up 483 from Sunday.

By Monday afternoon, the state reported that 742,204 vaccine doses had been administered to Arkansans.

The deaths of 24 Arkansans that resulted from COVID-19 were reported Monday, bringing the state’s death toll to 5,343, indicating a state COVID mortality rate of 1.6%.

The ADH reported 51,256 COVID-19 test results had returned so far in March on Monday, including 2,546 that returned yesterday. Since the state began testing for the virus, 3,221,173 results have returned to the ADH, including 2,883,520 negatives, indicating an overall positivity rate for the state of 10.1%.

At 3:45 p.m. Monday, Johns Hopkins University reported 29,030,476 COVID-19 cases in the United States. Data wasn’t available then on the number of U.S. residents considered recovered from the virus or the number of active cases in the country. There had been 525,541 deaths attributable to the virus reported in the U.S. by Monday afternoon, indicating a national COVID mortality rate of 1.8%.

Johns Hopkins reported 117,055,507 COVID-19 cases worldwide Monday afternoon. There were 66,283,143 people considered recovered from the virus Monday, leaving 48,175,151 cases — 41.2% — active around the world. There had been 2,597,213 deaths attributable to the virus reported by Monday afternoon, indicating a global COVID mortality rate of 2.2%.

Vaccine eligibility category 1-B

The categories of eligible Arkansans under Phase 1-B of the COVID-19 vaccination plan are detailed below.

People 65 years of age and older

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (including Down syndrome)

Police Protection, Fire Protection, and Other First Responders

County Sheriffs and Deputies

Community Police Officers

County and Community Fire Departments (paid and volunteer)

Other Justice, Public Order, and Safety Activities

Emergency and Other Relief Services during natural disasters, such as Red Cross


Child Daycare workers K-12 teachers and staff

Referees/Sports Officials (AAA sanctioned) Music education instructors (in school only) School bus drivers

Junior College faculty and staff

Colleges, Universities, and Professional School faculty and staff Business Schools and Computer and Management Training workers Technical and Trade School workers

Vocational Rehabilitation Services workers

Adult Education workers

Educational Support Services workers

Administration of Education Programs

Automobile Driving Schools

Food and Agriculture

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting workers Crop Production

Animal Production and Aquaculture

Cattle Ranching and Farming, including dairy cattle and milk production

Hog and Pig Farming

Poultry and Egg Production

Sheep and Goat Farming


Other Animal Production, including bees, horses, fur-bearing animals and rabbits

Forestry and Logging

Fishing, Hunting, and Trapping

Support Activities for Agriculture and Forestry H2A Migrant workers

Food Manufacturing

Animal Food Manufacturing

Grain and Oilseed Milling

Flour Milling and Malt Manufacturing

Rice Milling

Soybean and Other Oilseed Processing

Sugar and Confectionery Product Manufacturing

Fruit and Vegetable Preserving and Specialty Food Manufacturing Dairy Product Manufacturing

Animal Slaughtering and Processing

Animal, except poultry, slaughtering Meat processed from carcasses Poultry Processing

Seafood Product Preparation and Packaging Bakeries and Tortilla Manufacturing

Other Food Manufacturing

Beverage Manufacturing

Nursery, Garden Center, and Farm Supply Stores workers

Veterinary Services, including veterinarians and veterinarian technicians, and others who work in animal hospitals, veterinary clinics, veterinary testing laboratories


Department of Corrections Workers Juvenile Corrections Workers

City and County Jail Workers

Parole and Probation Office workers

Houses of Worship

Clergy Pastors Ministers Priests Rabbis Imams

Other Faith Leaders for Houses of Worship

Transit Workers (Public–facing)

Bus/Van Drivers (includes Charter Buses)

All Other Transit and Ground Passenger Transportation Urban Transit Systems

Employee Bus/Van Drivers

Special Needs Transportation Drivers

Taxi Drivers/Uber/Lyft

Interurban and Rural Bus Transportation Airline/Airport Workers

Postal and Package Delivery Services

Postal Service workers Couriers and Messengers

Workers in Courier and Express Delivery Services such as DHL, Federal Express, UPS. (Amazon is in 1C under Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order) Local Messengers and Local Delivery

Private Mail Centers

Grocery Stores and Meal Delivery

Food and Beverage Stores

General Merchandise Stores, including Warehouse Clubs and Supercenters Community Food Services

Carry-out and Meal Delivery workers


Non-food manufacturing facility workers

Wood Product Manufacturing workers

Paper Manufacturing workers

Asphalt Paving, Roofing, and Saturated Material Manufacturing Other Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

Chemical Manufacturing

Plastics and Rubber Product Manufacturing

Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing

Primary Metal Manufacturing

Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing

Machinery Manufacturing

Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing

Electronic Equipment, Appliance, and Component Manufacturing

Transportation Equipment Manufacturing

Wood Kitchen Cabinet and Countertop Manufacturing

Medical Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing

Other Miscellaneous Manufacturing

Industrial Design Services

Other Electronic and Precision Equipment Repair and Maintenance

Commercial and Industrial Machinery and Equipment (except Automotive and Electronic) Repair and Maintenance

Essential Government Workers

Marshallese Consulate staff Mexican Consulate staff


Federal Courts, Judges, Attorneys and Support Staff (Eastern and Western Districts) Federal Public Defenders Court Personnel, who enter correctional/jail facilities Court Reporting and Stenotype Services

Legal Counsel and Prosecution

Legal Interpreters and Paralegals, who enter correctional/jail facilities


Category 1 Employees of Cabinet Departments

DWS Local Offices (if not included in Category 1)

DHS Central and Local Offices (if not included in Category 1) DFA Local Offices (if not included in Category 1)

Category 1 Employees of Non-cabinet Departments

Category 1 Employees of Constitutional Departments/Offices

Administration of Education Programs

State Courts, Judges, Attorneys and Support Staff

Federal Public Defenders Court Personnel, who enter correctional/jail facilities Court Reporting and Stenotype Services

City and County

County Judge and Quorum Court

Mayor and City Council

City and County Courts, Judges, Attorneys and Support Staff

County and City Attorneys and Public Defenders, who enter correctional/jail facilities Court Reporting and Stenotype Services

Public-facing Clerks


Office of Emergency Management workers

Solid Waste/Trash Collection workers (private, county) Water, Sewage, and Other Systems

Waste Management and Remediation Services Administration of Housing Programs


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