The Arkansas Health Department says the state has added 317 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours and 25 more deaths.

Active cases fell by 234, to 3,227.

Advertisement

Hospitalizations fell by 16, to 301, with 128 COVID cases in ICU.

The vaccination surplus continues to grow.

Advertisement

As you can see from the state dashboard, we have 526,000 more doses of vaccine that has not yet been administered. Some 217,000 doses, roughly, are in reserve for people awaiting a second shot, but that still means more than 300,000 are available.

Anecdotal evidence continues to show pharmacies with open appointments; of shot clinics not abiding by the 1A and 1B guidelines, and other anomalies. I’m OK with the latter, by the way, particularly in such circumstances as using doses that would otherwise expire at the end of the day and given to whoever was handy to take them.

Advertisement

But here’s another anecdotal piece of evidence of the failure of our scattershot distribution plan, with no centralized control. A restaurant owner told the Times he’d been informed by a vaccine distributor that reports that said food delivery workers qualified for shots but restaurant servers did not was incorrect. The distributor said servers were eligible and moved to begin vaccinating that restaurant’s workers.

Just to be sure, I double-checked with Gavin Lesnick, the Health Department spokesman, who’d said clearly when the governor opened up all people in 1-B of vaccination priority that restaurant and bar workers were NOT included.

He reiterated:

No, that is not correct. Restaurant workers are in food service under 1-C, so they are not included in the newly eligible 1-B groups.

He added when I mentioned some of the inconsistencies:

Advertisement

It is a big effort, and we are making substantial progress. When we identify issues about eligibility, we work to educate to make the current requirements clear.

No doubt. I am still of the mind that resistance to the vaccine is a problem, as is the better use of vaccines in higher-income neighborhoods (reflected in the disparate racial distribution of the shots according to recent data).

I’m no expert, but I’ll stand my ground on saying supply problems — if not already solved — will be solved by the federal effort shortly. It’s time to set up mass clinics, open eligibility and give shots to just about anyone who’ll take them, without imposing arbitrary cutoffs.

I’m still puzzled by allowing wide-open bars and restaurants but not allowing workers there to get vaccinated.

I’m still puzzled by the low priority for people (as old as 64) with problematic health while many other states, including neighbors Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri have broader eligibility.

The governor keeps saying he’s pro-life. When it comes to COVID and vaccinations, he seems to be more pro-cash register.

Questions for him tomorrow when he marks the one-year anniversary of the declaration of a public health emergency.

Here’s the daily summary with the guv’s anodyne quote:

Today’s report shows fewer new cases and higher testing than last week. Of the 25 new deaths reported today, 16 of them are late reporting from January. The team at the Department of Health and I are continually monitoring vaccine distribution to ensure we can administer doses as quickly and efficiently as possible.