Governor Hutchinson appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation this morning and answered questions on two big topics:

TRUMP RESISTANCE TO THE ELECTION RESULTS

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He described an effort by Republicans in Congress to challenge electoral votes as a “Don Quixote jousting at windmill” effort that “certainly will fail,” though he said Congress had the right to challenge electoral votes by the states. He said:

“I do think that from a state perspective, the challenges have been initiated through recounts and court challenges. And that’s how we work in our Electoral College, state by state. And so when it gets to Congress, it’s really a limited opportunity to review the intricacies of the election process. We should have confidence in what has been done and the reviews and the recounts. And let’s all recognize that while the system is not perfect, it worked state by state, and we should accept those results and move on to do some good things for our country.”

THE SLOW ROLLOUT OF VACCINES

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Hutchinson acknowledged the state of Arkansas had so far distributed only a third of the doses of vaccines it had received, but disputed federal officials who’ve blamed the states and generally struggled in explaining why things aren’t going more smoothly here.

Well, there are a number of challenges and we’ve got to do better both at the federal and at the state level. One of the challenges is that we have a limited supply. And when you have a limited supply, that means you’ve got to prioritize and you’ve got to make sure you’re giving it to those with the greatest needs, or those of the greatest risk. And that’s a challenge in and of itself. Secondly, you do have some reluctance and that creates some complications. We’re focusing on our long-term care facilities and that has to have consents in many instances and that slows up the process. But even with that, we have to do better. We have to act with a sense of urgency and we can do that. We have to learn whenever you’re in a battle that you have to adjust to the circumstances of that battle.

The governor praised independent pharmacies for moving faster than chain pharmacies at getting vaccines underway. And he said the National Guard and pharmacy students might have to be considered as a means of increasing the number of people working on the process.

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NEWS

As for news, the governor insisted the state had a plan for distribution, though he acknowledged changes may yet be coming in priorities established for distribution after health care providers and nursing home residents are covered. He said the state was considering what other states have done, lowering the recommended age of 75 for people placed in the highest priority for the second wave of vaccines. Some states have lowered that to 65. Hutchinson said Arkansas was considering lowering the age to 70 and he also said some other changes, presumably in a definition of essential workers, were coming soon on state implementation of CDC guidelines.

He said vaccinations should increase dramatically in the next 10 days and he expected all the top priority groups to be completed by the end of January “if not sooner than that.”

Here’s the transcript of Hutchinson’s interview.

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He resisted the notion that feds were blaming the states. He insisted both were saying the same thing.

We are allocating where it goes. They deliver it to where we say and that’s to the private sector right now.

From where I sit, the state hasn’t demonstrated a plan you can understand and Hutchinson’s deferral to the private sector seems only confirmation of that. And further blame shifting.

But if you want to see a plan, I refer you to HEB, the progressive grocery chain in Texas. Its chain of pharmacies has a web-based scheduler for vaccine appointments, for example. Gee. What an idea! HEB has been begging the state for more doses, speaking of efficient delivery. At the link is a FAQ list that I’d love to see Arkansas emulate, not to mention the scheduling tool. (I believe I’ve mentioned before how HEB started mobilizing for the pandemic in March.)

But let’s not forget where the blame lies for this mishmash of a response — Donald Trump.