MultiCorder6 - Output 1 - 06 April 2021 - 01-25-28 PM.1
7:32PM Apr 6, 2021
Governor Asa Hutchinson
Good afternoon and welcome to today's COVID 19 weekly update. I'm pleased to be joined as usual by Secretary Jose Romero, the Department of Health Secretary Johnny key of the Department of Education. And today we have a couple special guests which is Dr. Michelle Smith, the Director of the Office of Health Equity at the Department of Health, and Dr. Marlene Battle of DMD pharmacy here in Little Rock, and a special treat today we have Dr. delahaye, who has not been here recently. So well welcome and thank you for your work. And of course, Colonel Rob ater as well, who's leading our vaccination administration work. Today, we'll give our usual case report vaccination report. And I want to emphasize today the importance of of getting vaccinations out in our minority community, which currently is, is behind in terms of their vaccination as compared to the percent of the population. And so we want to continue to emphasize the equity of our vaccine distribution, and how important it is in every aspect of our communities here in Arkansas. Let's first look at our report replace report which puts everything in perspective. On the top left is our cases over the last 24 hours, we see an additional 163 cases in Arkansas new COVID cases. This is a little bit lower than last week, the same period of time. We're hovering around the same numbers through the course of the week, not going up not dramatically going down. We have a small reduction in active cases. Sadly, we have five new additional Arkansans who have died from this, and hospitalizations are up seven, and ventilators are up three. Not enough to establish any trend. They're still in a very low number, but I asked Dr. Romero and Dr. delahaye do we still have community spread of covid 19 in Arkansas? And the answer was yes. And that's just a reminder to us that when you think about 163 are Kansans. We have tested positive for covid 19, you multiply that by a higher number that are likely to be infected Arkansas just haven't been tested, then you're getting to see a number that you have to be mindful that COVID-19 is still in our communities. And whenever we're getting people vaccinated, you don't want to catch COVID-19 when the vaccination is available to you. And so that is really an important reminder for everyone. If you look at our vaccinations, on our bottom left, we've had 58,000 new doses received from yesterday, we've distributed 25,000 doses of the vaccine, which is a good performance for 24 hours. The percent of course does not go up whenever we get the load of vaccines that come in. If you look, though, at the those that have been partially immunized, 357,000 and fully immunized 477,000. You add those together, and you have over well over 800,000 Arkansans that have been partially or fully immunized. And the more that goes up, the better chance we have of decreasing the likelihood of our cases going up, our testing remains light. But that's understandable whenever you have a low case count, and people are getting immunized.
If you go to the next one, I wanted to break down a little bit of population. here these are individuals fully vaccinated in Arkansas versus the population estimate. And so of wide our Kansans, you have 77% that have been vaccinated with 81% representing the population so that 77% of all vaccinations out there have gone to white are Kansans. In contrast to African Americans, you see that 10% of all the vaccines are going to African Americans, but they represent 15 plus percent of the population. The other numbers, you know, are very, very close. But they shows that we have to continue to work to overcome historic reservation and concerns about vaccination in the minority community. And that's why I appreciate the work of our Minority Health Commission as well as our chief equity officer that works on this. If you go to the next one, you'll see an age breakdown. And this is encouraging because 65 Plus is the age group with the greatest vulnerability to hospitalization and death because of COVID-19. And here, we have 19%, partially vaccinated, fully vaccinated 45.3. And so that is 64.5% of our 65 plus population has been vaccinated. We want to keep that high, we want to get it higher, but this is good news for that population and the success of our vaccination efforts. And then, for those who want to get a vaccination 16 Plus, please call the vaccine halt, call line 1-800-985-6030. Call that number. And our call center at the Department of help will help you identify the options as to where you can go and get a reservation for a vaccine. What clinics are available to you. We're happy to help call that vaccine call line soon to get in line for the vaccine. With that, let me invite Dr. Michelle Smith, first our Director of Office of Health Equity at the Department of Health, for her comments as to how we're reaching the minority population and then Dr. Battle if you could come up right after that and talk about your outreach. That would be good. Please.
Thank you, Governor Hutchinson, for this opportunity to share the ongoing work from the Office of Health Equity as it relates to the COVID-19 response. As vaccine distribution continues. Ensuring racial equity is important for mitigating the disproportionate impacts on people of color, preventing widening health disparities and achieving broad population immunity. To that end in January, we developed health equity strike teams to assist state efforts in ensuring special populations have equal access to vaccine distribution sites. These populations include racial and ethnic minorities, people living with disabilities. faith based organizations, rural communities and elderly populations, teams are dispatched into counties that have low vaccination rates. And they work with local leaders including mayors, state representatives, church leaders and civic groups. They comprise of nurses, health educators, public information specialists, and lay community members with skill sets needed to foster community relationships, address hesitancy and encourage vaccine participation. Health Equity strike teams also utilize 80 to 135 volunteers that help staff these clinics. As a result of these efforts, which began in January over 12,001st and 12. And second dose vaccines have been administered throughout Jefferson, Pulaski de Shay St. Francis Crittenton, and Sebastian counties. With the elimination of phases and the hiring of 30 employees. Additional health equity strike teams are now being deployed in more locations across the state. The goal for the month of April is to administer 8000 vaccines with 50% or greater being among minority groups. This goal will be achieved with partnerships with the Arkansas Pharmacists Association, black mayor's Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield, ua Ms. Baptist Health and in WA t jonesborough. In addition, collaboration with black fraternity and sorority chapters across the state have proved to be highly effective in increasing turnout at these events. at all of these clinics, you will see volunteers wearing the Blue Cross vaccinate the natural state in their organizations colors. Local pharmacies have also worked with social groups, and the Mexican consulate and faith based institutions to offer vaccinations in locations that are more accessible to these populations. Upcoming first dose clinics this week include a Johnson and Johnson clinic from 10 to 3pm. At shorter College in North Little Rock on tomorrow, and on Sunday, the strike team will administer j&j vaccines in four city at the Larry s Bryant center. For a list of these and other health equity clinics including local health unit vaccination locations, you can go to the ADH website. To make appointments you can call the 800 number or you can just walk in at the clinics and we will work you in the schedule. Lastly, as more become fully vaccinated, we need more volunteers to assist at these clinics. Volunteering has many forms and can range from assisting someone who may not have transportation, Internet access, or it may be a way to reassure someone who is still uncertain about getting vaccinated. Those that do come to the clinics have found volunteering as a way to give back to the community to get out of the house to see friends and other find it as a way to honor loved ones that they have lost to due to COVID-19. Whatever your expertise or motivation, we welcome you to sign up to help. We will also like to thank the over 500 volunteers that have already assisted in these efforts. And if you are interested, you can call our office at 501-661-2622. We look forward to seeing you. Thank you.
Good afternoon. Thank you Governor Hutchinson and Secretary Romero for giving me the opportunity to share with you from the pharmacy community and the work that we have been doing at DND pharmacy that's located within the Arkansas diagnostic center, led by Dr. Alonzo William senior, Dr. Williams welcomed the opportunity to further serve the community by opening the doors of DMD pharmacy to provide a familiar and trustworthy vaccination site for the citizens of Arkansas, especially our minority population, myself along with all the other pharmacists across the state. We have been working tirelessly to ensure that every arkansan who is eligible to receive the vaccine can get it. In addition to the vaccines that I have administered at my job, I have volunteered with the health equity strike teams to administer vaccines at a local church, ensuring that the minority population and other special populations are being vaccinated. We must continue to encourage people to overcome their doubts and their fears. For those of us who have been vaccine Nailed it. Let us be ambassadors in spreading the word to others on getting the vaccine. For anyone wanting to get the vaccine DND pharmacy will be offering a drive through vaccination clinic this Saturday. For more information and to pre register for this vaccination clinic, you can go to ABC gc a.com. Thank you.
Thank you, Dr. Battle. And now we'll hear a quick report from Dr. Romero. Who will talk about the importance of a second dose and then ask Secretary Kay to come and give a update on our schools.
Thank you, Governor. Good afternoon. I want to remind everyone about the importance of getting the second vaccine dose if you have received either the Pfizer or the Madonna vaccine. Remember, only the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is a single dose vaccine, we're starting to see increasing numbers of individuals that aren't returning or have missed their second dose. And we want them to Please catch up on that now. Even if you miss your window, you can call the one 800 number and we can tell you where to go to get that second dose, it's very important that you become fully immunized with the vaccine. We are doing well and striving to reach minority communities and that has been spoken to already with the governor's permission I will direct a few words to Spanish speaking population that might be listening to this he Liske is muy importante le k but the K consider lacuna is is Manila and mucho sitios in St. momento. la una is gratuita No sir carrier that essentially this user and the EPA recipe la una la una Segura. efficace brevini loseley delissa Seon in I'm working in noventa, Brazil, Missouri las cosas in those prefer what Domino Domino estoppel they like narci e tambien aveling consoles they see no su familia, Baraka Symbian receiver Mark una persona de si se sanyas in Atlanta wound receiving lahmacun. Thank you very much, Governor.
For Secretary key, I did want to set the stage that it is important for those 16 plus to get vaccinated, which means some of those that are eligible to be vaccinated are still in high school. And we have vaccines that are available, we want to utilize those in the schools that want to make sure they're the students are have vaccines that are available to them. And we really want to pilot this now, while school is in session so we can be ready for the fall. And the fall, of course, we hope that we will have FDA approval for use of the vaccine in 12. And above so that we will have a very comprehensive vaccination program and available for our students at that age. And so with that sector, Kate,
thank you, Governor, the school year is beginning to wind down This week marks the beginning of our testing window. And yesterday being the first day we administered over 44,000 tests across the state that's, that shows that we are getting back to normal and we are doing the things that our kids expect our families expect, and the things that our teachers need in our schools need so that they can understand what the impact of this COVID-19 situation has done to the learning on the student level. As the governor said, it's very important that we consider the eligibility of those that are 16 and over and the opportunities that we might have in our schools to be able to administer vaccines to those students that are eligible. I would just say that, that that is something that we will be working with the health department, with physicians groups, the primary care physicians and pediatricians and our school districts to help set up the these opportunities because if we can get more of these students, their vaccine both doses of their vaccines, Dr. Merrill, before School's out, it will help us set the stage for a good summer. And as the governor said, returning to school in the fall.
Thank you, Johnny. With that. We'll take any questions. Andy Do you everything
and anything that you think might change that to get more people to get vaccinated
or sure where I'm concerned about the race to get over? Everybody vaccinated and how we're doing in that regard. Right now you we have a low new case count. But the national experts say that, you know, when you see the trend line and what is it 16 states, the cases are going up, you see what's happened in Europe. And we recognize, based upon historic patterns that that could come to Arkansas. And the only way to prevent that is to beat the spread of covid through more vaccinations. So vaccinations are critically important. We want to get them out as fast as we can. There, we have to overcome resistance, we have to overcome the challenges of rural state. And so while we're making a great deal of progress there, everything we can do to accelerate that and so that people don't not do not take it for granted that we have low cases. You know, some of the restrictions are off, all the restrictions are off. You see people going to Major League Baseball, opening day with the Texas Rangers. And so people relax, and they think it's not something we need to worry about it is and we still need to get vaccinated. So yes, that's the emphasis on it. And that's one of the reasons for having Arthur Smith and Dr. Battle here today. Let me go remotely. And is there a broadcast journalist from Central Arkansas that has a question?
Yes, this is Alex with CHANNEL SEVEN. What are your thoughts on vaccine passports? And would you consider banning them as governor Abbott just
My second question is regarding the house that just overrode your veto of Hb 1570? Do you have a reaction to that?
First, in reference to the idea of the vaccine passport, I think we have to give latitude toward businesses and the private sector. So that if, you know an employer wants to have everyone vaccinated in their workplace, that they have the prerogative to do that. As you know, we have drug testing. And if they have a sensitive environment, they want to make sure you have the highest quality of precautions against COVID, then that's the private sector and their their right to protect their workplace. No, I don't think that it should be a condition of travel. So I think you have to hesitate about that. But I want everybody to get vaccinated, but and I know that there'll be some venues that will require a vaccination, and it will, he will allow access, you look at the cruise lines right now that are looking at an opening back up, and they want to be able to do business, but it's an insurance if they have people that go on the cruise line vaccinated. If I was going on a cruise line, I would feel more comfortable if they had an all vaccination policy. That way you feel safe. And so I think you have to give latitude to the private sector as a government No, the state is not going to be requiring and mandating vaccinations. Is there another question? Yes,
this is Melissa ziggu. With with th v 11. Recent CDC numbers show a variance of concern may make up over half of new COVID cases nationally. Do we know how many of our consoles new cases are caused by
I'm gonna let Dr. Romero comment on that. Before I do. I should have answered the second part of the question before and that was my reaction to the house overriding my veto. On a House Bill 1521 that I vetoed yesterday. As I said yesterday, I fully expected both the House and Senate to override the veto based upon the large Maduro majority that supported it initial so I don't consider it a surprise. I stated my convictions in belief yesterday. And I understand their vote and the support for in the House and Senate. With that Dr. Moreau Do you want comment on the variance?
So we're unable to give you specifics about the number of isolates that we have in positive cases as variants because we don't sequence every one of them. But what we do know is that the number is increasing within the state last week, we had three variants identified we have about 18 to 19 variants so far identified since the beginning of March and we are following this on a weekly basis. We are also increasing the number of isolates that are being sent for sequencing and for genomic determination. So we're keeping a very close eye on this, we're not seeing increasing the number of cases. We know that these variants are highly transmissible, and they have an increased virulence, if you will, or lethality. Thank you.
We'll turn the microphone open for anyone who has a question.
I'm sure governor, this is Benjamin hardy with the Arkansas nonprofit news network. So as far as the outreach to the African American community goes, as I know, you're aware, there's been a lot of polling it shows, the groups that are most hesitant to take the vaccine tend to be republicans and white angelical Christians. And I just wondered if there is going to be any sort of specific outreach targeted towards those groups, either through through churches or other means.
I think they're doing fine. There's, you know, some resistance. But you know, our focus today is on the minority population, and getting it out more broadly as a whole. And so, you know, in terms of our advertising campaign, we have influencers, we have those that are respected in the community. We have national leaders that are communicating it. And so and we're also utilizing our employers and the education that takes place in the workforce. I just talked to yesterday to Raj ash shikhandi, the chief operating officer of welspun. And he talked about what he did in his workplace of bringing in physicians that taught the workplace and talk to them about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and encourage those, and as a result of that the percent went way up. So it's, it's an education effort that we're doing every day. Is there another question?
afternoon, Governor, good afternoon. It's Brett rains of 4029 News, two quick questions, the CDC announced nearly $30 million for COVID vaccine expansions. caveat is 75% of the funding must focus specifically for ethnic minority communities. Can you comment as Arkansas received that plans to use both funds? And second question is for Dr. Romero, who was in the Fort Smith area Friday speaking, speaking specifically to members of the last night? Was that effective? How did that go? And just comment from him after your response. Thank you.
Did you get that? Why don't you answer that part of the question.
So that is correct. I spent Friday evening in Fort Smith as being my family to the Latino community, both in an English and Spanish dialogue, answering questions from a reporter and from the community. I think it went well. The purpose of the interview, if you will, was to transmit information regarding the importance of vaccination, the safety of vaccination, and the availability of the vaccine for all people within the state. And I think it it was it was well received. Thank you.
And read in terms of the first part of the question, I was on a call with the White House today, Vice President Harris was on the call as well. And I believe it's 5 billion nationally will be dedicated to minority outreach. Much of this will be through our community health centers, and through our departments of health. We're still waiting details on the allocation of that money. Right now. Money is not an obstacle. We have resources that we're putting into play to make sure we have those outreach programs. There could be some particular assistance in they mentioned that it could be available to us for actually going door to door marketing the vaccine and trying to encourage everyone to get the vaccine. So we will stay tuned. We'll continue to look at the specific guidelines there's we have opportunity to access that those funds
that mean affected in any way by the lifting of the math mandate. And is there any penalty for students who don't want to take the test
question was, is the Aspire testing affected in any way by the lifting of the mask mandate? I would say that no, I mean, by the first day's numbers, it's apparent that there's a very strong day of testing. So our schools are trying to many of them are getting an early start on that the window lasts believe over the next six weeks. I don't foresee any issues there, we have been very flexible with our schools in setting up alternative sites, so that anyone who, you know parent that may have chosen virtual learning for the whole year could take their child to a setting that was not necessarily the traditional school setting, but would have reduced numbers, we are allowing weekend testing, we're allowing many options that were not available in the past. So that the any fear could be remedied by those options. What was the second part at penalty for masking there is no individual penalty to students. For for not testing, we are encouraging everyone whether they are in person, or whether they are remote, every parent to have their kid, test their student tested, allow them to come on side allow them to experience these alternative situations so that they can test in a safe environment. But there is no individual penalty, there's no student level penalty. The the aggregate that we're shooting for is 95%. We will look to see where we are at the end of the testing cycle and determine and we have been in contact with the US Department of Education. And at that point, we can determine whether we need a waiver from the federal 95% requirement.
Is there a final question?
Yes, Governor now that it's been a week since you looked at the mask mandate, some people may have observed changes in behavior, people not wearing their masks. What have you observed? And does it concern you?
Actually, I've been impressed with the response. I've been to church services in which everyone is wearing a mask and the church service, you feel very safe. You go into restaurants. And you know, I had a telephone call and they reminded me to get my mask on. And so the businesses are making their decisions to keep their workplace safe. You see schools responding many some of the rural schools are lifting the mask mandate in the schools, some of the urban schools with a denser population and students number of students are keeping the mask mandate in place to me that is the essence of of community influence on the mask and how that should be handled. And that is really where we are with the virus today with a low number of cases. I think we're at the right spot with that. And I've been very pleased with the response and the responsibility that everyone has demonstrated since the statewide mandate was lifted. Thank you very much.