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Arkansas virus deaths rise; city launches vaccine incentives

September 7, 2021 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas on Tuesday reported 38 new deaths from COVID-19 as the state’s capital launched a new incentive program to boost the city’s vaccinations.

The Department of Health said the state’s death toll from COVID-19 now totals 7,108. The state reported 583 new virus cases. The state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations rose by eight to 1,228.

Arkansas ranks 10th in the country for new cases per capita, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The state’s top health official has warned he expects to see a surge in cases following the Labor Day weekend, and Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday said he expected an increase as well.

“We have fewer cases from the Labor Day weekend, but we’ll see the effects of the holiday weekend later this week and into the next,” Hutchinson tweeted.

Little Rock launched its incentive program tied to vaccination clinics it is holding, starting on Saturday at the Southwest Community Center.

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“We understand that there are people who may still be inclined to become fully vaccinated, but simply haven’t made it a priority,” Mayor Frank Scott said in a statement. “We hope to codnvince them that now is the time to take this important step to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

Those vaccinated at these clinics will receive a $50 VISA Rewards Card from U.S. Bank for both their first and second dose of vaccine received at a participating clinic. Those who provide proof of having received a first vaccine dose at another clinic and choose to get their second vaccine dose at a participating clinic, or those who receive a single-dose vaccine at a participating clinic, can receive a $100 Rewards Card.

The city of Fayetteville last month launched a similar $100 vaccine incentive program.

There are 513 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units around the state and 321 on ventilators, according to the Department of Health. There are only 20 ICUs available in the state, though it’s unclear how many of those are equipped for COVID-19 patients.