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Hutchinson announces all veterans can get Covid-19 vaccine in Arkansas, gives update on lifting mask mandate

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson provided an update on the state's legislative session and hosted his weekly Covid-19 press conference on Tuesday.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson provided an update on the state's legislative session along with his weekly Covid-19 press conference on Tuesday (March 23). 

The governor announced that all veterans in the state are now eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. 

Veterans must be 18 and older, and must also be enrolled in VA Health Care. As of now, there have been more than 26,000 vaccinations given to veterans and staff at Central Arkansas Veterans Health System (CAVHS), including Fayetteville.

Credit: ADH
Veterans eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine

Over 1 million Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in Arkansas, according to CDC data. Hutchinson said more vaccines are being shipped to the state this week. 

Gov. Hutchinson also spoke about spring break and how it could impact the number of Covid-19 cases in the state.

He encourages everyone who has traveled, has not followed social distancing guidelines, and has been in crowds to get tested for the virus after they return home from spring break. He says he doesn't want to reinvigorate the virus while it is at a low level in the state.

State Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero also spoke about the importance of testing after traveling for spring break.

“We are concerned that individuals who have traveled, students, other individuals, will have been infected while enjoying their spring break,” Dr. Romero said.

He says it's important that Arkansans not allow this virus to resurge in the three weeks following spring break. 

Dr. Romero also talked about how the state cannot fully reopen without higher vaccine numbers. He says the reluctance to get vaccinated along with public complacency with lower case numbers is part of the reason for fewer vaccinations being given. 

“Now is the time to get immunized, now is the time to get vaccinated,” Dr. Romero said.

Gov. Hutchinson also answered questions about lifting the statewide mask mandate by the end of March and is expected to make an announcement on that sometime next week.

He says if the state meets the public health criteria to lift the mandate, it will be lifted statewide. City’s will not be given the chance to make their own mask mandates.

You can watch Hutchinson's full press conference on the 5NEWS YouTube page. 

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