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Arkansas virus cases spike by more than 1,200 in a day

July 8, 2021 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ coronavirus cases increased by more than 1,000 for the second day in a row Thursday as the state saw another spike in its hospitalizations and deaths.

The Department Health reported 1,210 new virus cases, bringing its total since the pandemic began to 354,305. The state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations rose by 49 to 481 and deaths increased by 11 to 5,944.

Health officials have warned about a third wave of the coronavirus hitting the state, fueled by the delta variant of the virus and lagging vaccination rates.

Arkansas ranks second in the country for new cases per capita over the past two weeks, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers. Only about 35% of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state also reported its active cases, meaning ones that don’t include people who have died or recovered, increased by 740 to 5,932.

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The latest increase comes as Gov. Asa Hutchinson took over as the National Governors Association chairman, vowing to make combatting vaccine hesitancy a priority. Hutchinson also kicked off a series of town hall-style meetings around the state on Thursday aimed at encouraging people to get vaccinated.