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LITTLE ROCK – At his weekly news briefing today, Governor Asa Hutchinson discussed the state expanding hospital capacity and increasing case numbers.
Governor Hutchinson announced the new numbers for COVID-19 as of Friday with Arkansas surpassing over 100k active cases in the state. This means over 3% of the population is currently an active case and hospitalizations have increased to a new record of 1,658.
“With where we are right now in this pandemic, and with the Omicron variant we do believe we are managing our way through it,” Governor Hutchinson said, “We are responding to the needs that are out there and we are hopeful we will see the cases go down.”
Governor Hutchinson gave an update on hospital expansion from the approved $50 million dollars. He said that beds have been opened in hospitals that have received that money to increase capacity for the surging cases.
According to reports from Thursday, about 42 beds were open with about 54 left to be opened meaning additional capacity is coming soon with more beds coming online.
He said it is important to see the cases of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant compared to past spikes and to see how while the cases are much higher now, hospitalizations are far less in comparison to the current case number.
Governor Hutchinson presented the at-home test map that shows where the 1.5 million tests were distributed to. There are still about 370,000 available at local health units with libraries having a supply as well. These tests should help alleviate testing demands giving a cushion while waiting for federal tests to be delivered.
Greg Crain, Vice President of the Arkansas Baptist Health centers spoke during the briefing applauding the work of health care workers dealing with the COVID-19 surges. He gave thanks to the decision from Governor Hutchinson, the Department of Health, and Legislators, to expand beds for hospitals around the state including Baptist Health hospitals. He said without this expansion the Arkansas health care infrastructure would be in deep trouble.
Dr. Romero, Secretary of Arkansas Department of Health spoke about the impact the Omicron variant has had on Arkansas. He noted that while hospitalizations reflect how Omicron is less severe on an individual level, the Omicron breakout is still very severe on a societal level and still poses a threat to our health care system.
You can watch the full briefing HERE.
You can view the slide presentation from today’s briefing HERE.