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Hutchinson: States need to take lead in distributing vaccine

February 12, 2021 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday said states need to take the lead in administering the coronavirus vaccine as the number of new virus cases in the state dropped.

Hutchinson was among a bipartisan group of governors and mayors who met with President Joe Biden at the White House to discuss the president’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. During the meeting, Hutchinson said they also discussed coronavirus vaccine administration.

“I emphasized one particular point and that’s the states need to take the lead in vaccine administration and we don’t need to have duplicate programs that are hard to coordinate,” Hutchinson said,

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The state Department of Health reported 565 new cases in the state, bringing Arkansas’ total since the pandemic began to 311,608. The state’s COVID-19 deaths rose by 13 to 5,212 and its hospitalizations stayed unchanged at 712.

Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases in Arkansas has decreased by 498.9, a decrease of 30%, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The Department of Health said 452,208 of the 718,200 coronavirus vaccine doses Arkansas received have been given so far.

A House spokeswoman on Friday said that Republican Rep. Marsh Davis tested positive for the coronavirus, the 25th lawmaker to contract the virus. Davis is recovering at home with mild symptoms, House spokeswoman Cecillea Pond-Mayo said. Davis was last at the Capitol on Wednesday, the final day the Legislature was in session this week.