Arkansas hospitals placed 33 new covid-19 patients on ventilators Tuesday, according to the state’s department of health, bringing the total to 205 patients struggling for life on the machines. Sadly, that’s the highest number of patients on ventilators since January, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, and it’s due largely to the state’s desperately low vaccination rates.
The number of covid-19 patients currently hospitalized in Arkansas is 1,025, another high that hasn’t been seen since January of this year. The state recorded 2,052 new cases on Tuesday, with 10 new deaths from the disease.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, tweeted about the depressing milestones on Tuesday, urging residents to get vaccinated.
“Today our hospitalizations crossed the 1,000 mark. I will meet with my COVID Task Force tomorrow morning to discuss ways to increase hospital capacity. Vaccines are the best antidote for our increasing numbers; the best antidote for fear is counsel from a trustworthy advisor,” Hutchinson tweeted.
Arkansas passed a law earlier this year that forbids any local government from introducing a mask mandate to combat the spread of covid-19, a law that Hutchinson defended on CNN just a few days ago. The law goes into effect this week, which seems like particularly bad timing. Hutchinson told CNN that vaccine mandates would be an “imposition on freedom.”
Depressingly, Hutchinson was booed on Monday after trying to dispel some of the myths around the covid-19 vaccines, including the false belief that it causes infertility in women.
Just 36.25% of Arkansas residents are fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University, the fourth worst in the nation.
Vaccine resistance is complicated, but political affiliation has been a reliable way to measure vaccine hesitancy during this horrifying pandemic. Followers of former president Donald Trump are particularly resistant to getting vaccinated against covid-19, even though Trump received his vaccination in secret while still in office.
Arkansas went for Trump during the 2020 presidential election 62% to Biden’s 34%.