Hutchinson: Arkansas ‘well-prepared’ to vaccinate younger children

Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 9:16 AM CDT|Updated: Nov. 2, 2021 at 3:51 PM CDT
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - During his weekly briefing on Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson discussed various topics ranging from redistricting to broadband internet and COVID vaccines for kids.

The governor began his Nov. 2 briefing by encouraging citizens to voice their opinions on proposed redistricting plans.

He directed residents to a website where they can review the statewide maps and provide comments.

Hutchinson then touched upon his visit to Earle earlier in the day where they unveiled a $3.7 million broadband expansion.

He said the expansion will provide internet access to 2,325 homes and businesses in Earle and Parkin.

“To date, the Arkansas Rural Connect Program has provided nearly $280 million in funds and in grants which covers 213,000 Arkansans that now have access to high-speed internet,” Gov. Hutchinson said.

After announcing his plans to visit Israel on an “economic development trip,” the governor announced the state is ready to provide COVID vaccines to children in the 5-11 age group as soon as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives its okay.

“Arkansas is well-prepared to get out the vaccines and make them available to the age group that we anticipate will be approved,” Hutchinson said.

He assured parents that there would be no mandate for vaccines, saying it was a “parental decision.”

The governor did note there was a 50% increase in COVID cases among children, as well as an 84% increase in hospitalizations and a 64% increase in ICU admissions due to the Delta strain.

According to a graphic he shared, the Arkansas Department of Health reports an increase in cases among children 5-11 in the last week.

Meanwhile, the state reported 641 new COVID cases and 28 more deaths in the last 24 hours.

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