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  • Sara Doan, Northeast Arkansas News

Governor Hutchinson brings statewide covid conversation to Blytheville

BLYTHEVILLE, Ark- Governor Asa Hutchinson was in Blytheville today as part of his statewide community covid conversation. He spoke about the rising number of coronavirus cases and the low number of vaccinations.

“On new cases per day on June 7th, we had only 62 new cases statewide in Arkansas,” the governor said. “One month later, on July 9th, we had one thousand 1,155 new cases in one day across Arkansas.”

The governor stressed the importance of not letting your guard down in terms of taking covid precautions. He applauded Blytheville for its 47.5% fully vaccinated rates, higher than 35%

statewide percentage of fully inoculated.

However, only 28% of Mississippi County residents are fully vaccinated. He credits the rise in covid cases to the delta variant and low vaccination rates.

“We’re at 35% and, the nation is at 48% on the average. It’s too low of a vaccination rate for Arkansas, and of course, Mississippi County is even lower than that. The risk of the delta variant is much more significant than the overall vaccination rate,” Gov. Hutchinson said.

Dozens of residents attended the community conversation that took place inside the Blytheville high school gymnasium.

Attendees had mixed views after the conversation. But overall, they say they want to raise vaccinated numbers for the city and county.

“You don’t just come now when it’s a crisis. You should have been here,” says Blytheville resident Cecil McDonald. “We should have had better resources based upon my answer to deal with this because this affects everybody. Covid is real and, it’s killing everybody.”

“I was a little shocked that it was even at 47%. It made me pretty proud of Blytheville, but like the governor said, we have a lot of work to do. And so, I would like to raise that up to 100%,” attendee Cody Wyatt says.

The delta variant is more contagious and causes one to be more ill.

The governor debunked vaccine rumors and encouraged business owners to give paid time off for employees to get vaccinated.

He also suggested universities should offer incentives for students to get vaccinated. Several attendees raised concerns about what the school year will bring with the delta variant.

“If you’re not vaccinated, if our staff is not vaccinated, if our don’t have a higher rate of vaccination, we’ve got challenges,” he said speaking, to the audience.

Multiple county and city officials shared why they chose to get inoculated and encouraged those who are hesitant to get vaccinated.

“The variant has increased, and it’s getting worse so, if we don’t do anything now, we’re back where we were a year ago,” says one employee of the Mississippi County Health Unit.


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