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COVID-19 variants becoming more prevalent


Gov. Asa Hutchinson urged this week that people need to take seriously the continued problem with new coronavirus cases when considering vaccinations.
Hutchinson said there is still a problem with Arkansans still being hesitant to take COVID-19 vaccinations. One reason for that is that some people perceive the threat of getting the disease is lower than it once was.
“So, the urgency of getting a vaccine has been diminished,” he said.
But health officials are still stressing the importance of getting vaccinated in whatever way is possible. Hutchinson called on employers to either hold clinics at the business or give employees time off to visit another clinic if necessary.
“We want you to provide education to the workers as to the importance of it,” the governor said.
Hutchinson said doctors and outpatient clinics have growing access to vaccines. Officials also want to make sure vaccines are available to the harder-to-reach population and make it as easy as possible. He called on Health Secretary Dr. José Romero to provide more information.
Romero said instances of variants of the original virus has increased “dramatically” in the previous week, especially the UK variant.
The variants are prevalent in the state. There is a chance that someone might catch the coronavirus and it will mutate to become a new variant.
“And this is only the tip of the iceberg because we’re only sequencing a small — very, very small — minority of the number of people that are sick,” Romero said.
Those variants, particularly the UK variant, is known to be more transmissible and is associated with more mortality, Romero said. In states where the UK variant has become a big problem, more children are contracting the virus and being hospitalized than in the past.
“The more people that are unimmunized, the more there is a chance for this virus to spread and to continue to mutate,” Romero said.


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