COVID-19 cases climb, Delta variant circulates as new school year approaches

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Governor Asa Hutchinson is warning Arkansans of the Delta variant in Arkansas and says it will likely get worse.

As we look ahead to the upcoming school year starting in just over a month, UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson said COVID-19 cases have more than tripled over the last eight weeks.

According to the Department of Health, there are 3,365 active cases in Arkansas as of Tuesday, June 29.

On top of this, there is growing concern over the Delta variant- which he says is the most lethal so far- becoming predominant in Arkansas.

Dr. Patterson said we have to be concerned that this trend could continue or get worse. If it does, we could be in the beginning of the third surge of COVID-19 in Arkansas.

But, Governor Hutchinson said the need for students to be in the classroom takes precendece.

“First of all there’s a great concern if they don’t go back to the classroom,” Governor Hutchinson said in a press conference Tuesday.

The governor and state epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Dillaha both say the number one strategy against this virus- Delta variant included- is vaccinating everyone who is eligible.

I’m hoping that, first of all, it should be that teachers are getting vaccinated. It’s been available to them and everyone 12+, so that’s a large part of our educational population.”

-GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R) ARKANSAS

The governor said once the school year begins he will consider the next steps for eligible students and teachers who are not vaccinated if cases are still climbing and the Delta variant is still predominant.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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