Governor Asa Hutchinson

At his weekly coronavirus response briefing, Gov. Asa Hutchinson made a familiar appeal to Arkansans: get vaccinated against COVID-19. His plea came just hours after the federal government recommended a pause on using Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine following reports of six instances of rare and severe blood clots in women between the ages of 18 and 48.

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There were 17 patients in COVID-19 wards across Washington and Benton Counties on Tuesday, which is a significant drop from the early January average of 128 COVID-19 patients per days. Hospitalizations have also fallen across the state, but at his weekly coronavirus response briefing, Gov. Asa Hutchinson urged Arkansans not to become complacent about taking precautions against the virus. The governor said he's most concerned about the increase numbers of COVID-19 variants that are being detected in more than a dozen states and several countries in Europe. Dr.

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During his weekly briefing on the pandemic Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the state is nearing his goal of administering more than a million vaccines by the end of the March. Officials also announced that all veterans enrolled in VA Health Care are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines. To watch the full briefing, click here.

As of Tuesday, nearly a million more Arkansans between the ages of 16 and 64 can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the eligibility expansion to all of Phase 1C in his weekly coronavirus response briefing. While not everybody in Phase 1B has been vaccinated, Hutchinson said it was important to expand eligibility to more people to make sure there isn't a gap in demand and willing patients. He added that there was reduced demand for shots in some parts of the state, especially in rural areas, and called it unacceptable.

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To mark the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Arkansas one year ago, Gov. Asa Hutchinson spoke at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff on Thursday, which is where the first known case of the virus in the state was diagnosed. The patient admitted last March, James Black, was also at the commemoration ceremony. Hutchinson thanked Arkansas healthcare workers for the work they've had to put in the last 365 days and compared the last year to the emergency and mourning the country collectively experienced in the aftermath of 9/11.

Local restaurant owners and workers say they're frustrated by the governor's recent decisions to relax most state mandates to guidelines while leaving them out of the vaccine rollout until Phase 1C. We speak with the owners and operators of Wright's Barbecue, Arsaga's, Cafe Rue Orleans and Rockin' Baker to get their takes on the situation.

More Arkansans are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. On Monday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced all categories in Phase 1B will not be able to receive a shot. That category includes workers in essential government services, grocery store and meal delivery, postal and package delivery, public transit, houses of worship and manufacturing. The governor also expanded vaccine eligibility to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who had originally been placed in Phase 1C. Food service workers, like restaurant and bar employees, remain in category 1C.

As we near the one year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic's arrival in Arkansas, more Arkansans are becoming eligible for vaccinations. During his weekly coronavirus response briefing on Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson expanded the current phase 1B of the state's vaccine rollout to food processing workers, which will make an additional 49,000 people eligible for the shot. Last month, the governor expanded vaccine eligibility to people between the ages of 65 and 70.

John Brummett, political columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, speaks with Roby Brock, from our partner Talk Business and Politics, about Gov. Asa Hutchinson's changes to the state's public health directives and whether they could mean an end to the public health emergency.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson held another coronavirus response briefing this morning to make three announcements. The first was that he is extending the public health emergency declaration for another 30 days until March 31. The continuation of the declaration, Hutchinson said, allows for continued Medicaid reimbursements for telehealth, business liability protections and remote learning options for school districts.

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