The number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators in Arkansas reached a new high on Monday as Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he hoped the full approval of Pfizer's vaccine would encourage more people in the state to get the shots against the virus.
The Department of Health said the number of virus patients on ventilators rose by 12 to 349, surpassing the previous high reached Saturday. The number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital increased by 42 to 1,411.
COVID-19 patients make up half of the state's intensive care unit beds, with 558 in ICU. There are only 22 ICU beds available in Arkansas, according to the Department of Health.
The state reported 30 new COVID-19 deaths and 986 new coronavirus cases.
Arkansas ranks fifth in the country for new cases per capita, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers.
Hutchinson, a Republican who chairs the National Governors Association, said he was pleased with federal regulators giving full approval to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. Hutchinson and other governors had been urging the federal government to fully approve the vaccine, saying it could help sway holdouts in their states.
Arkansas has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with nearly 40% of the state's population fully vaccinated. Hutchinson has been holding town halls around the state aimed at increasing the state's vaccination numbers. The state on Monday reported 5,427 more doses of the vaccine were given.
"One of the most common concerns I have heard is that the vaccines are not FDA approved, and I'm hopeful today's approval will help combat vaccine hesitancy," Hutchinson said in a statement released by his office.