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Gov. Asa Hutchinson hosts open forum to address COVID-19 and vaccine concerns in Texarkana


TEXARKANA, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – Now that COVID-19 numbers are spiking across the state of Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson held an open forum in Texarkana Thursday night.

According to the Associated Press and state officials, Arkansas is one of the leading states for new COVID-19 cases.

Hutchinson is in Texarkana to address concerns regarding the virus and vaccine rates. Hutchinson says with states like Texas and Louisiana being so close it’s hard to track data.

“We’re going to try to partner better with Texas to get that data. So we’ll have a better handle on what the vaccination rate is here. I think it’s safe to say that it’s low,” said Hutchinson.

Officials say this new “Delta variant” is more contagious. Arkansas has about one thousand new cases per day and currently has a total of 669 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19.

The goal is to direct more attention to people who live further out in the county.

“You know people out in the rural area. On the farm or elsewhere, they look around and think ‘I’m safe. You know, I’m not going to get COVID out here. So they don’t have the same level of focus but they forget that they go into town to shop,” said Hutchinson.

Governor Hutchinson says access to resources isn’t the problem.

“There’s testing available. There are vaccines available. The challenge is the demand. And uh – if there’s a demand anywhere we’ve got clinics. We’ve got leaders that will go out and do the supply,” said Hutchinson.

Based on an open conversation with the Texarkana community, Hutchinson says a major concern in this area is vaccine hesitancy and the lack of trust in government.

The governor says the goal is to focus on the people who are open to educating themselves on the virus and vaccine.

“As long as we see the cases going up. Hospilatiztions going up. You can expect me to be in the community,” said Hutchinson.

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