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As Delta variant sweeps U.S., COVID vaccinations rise in Arkansas

▶ Watch Video: Experts fear spread of Delta COVID variant in unvaccinated communities ahead of holiday weekend

As Americans celebrate this July 4th weekend, there are concerns that low vaccination rates in some parts of the country could lead to new outbreaks of COVID- 19.

Only 17 states have fully vaccinated more than half their population, and with the more contagious Delta variant on the rise, there are fears that many people remain vulnerable. In Arkansas, only 34% of the population is fully vaccinated.

But inside Trio’s Restaurant in Little Rock, every single person in the restaurant was vaccinated except for one person. The statistic comes as a surprise to Capi Peck, the co-owner of Trio’s Restaurant.

“Before we started this, I thought, ‘I bet at least 80% of my customers are vaccinated,” Peck told CBS News’ David Begnaud. “I was wrong!”

But Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson says outside of Little Rock, it’s a different story. Pulaski County, which includes Little Rock, has fully vaccinated about 40% of its residents. But in some of the state’s rural counties, that number plummets to less than 25%.

“Certainly, in the rural areas of our state, we have more resistance, there’s less vaccine acceptance,” Hutchinson said. 

COVID-19 hospitalizations are climbing up nearly 54% in just the last two weeks. The governor said that as hospitalizations rise in Arkansas, he is starting to see more people get vaccinated, motivated by risk and fear of catching the Delta variant.

“Well, I presume. I think it’s driven by risk. They see the risk increasing, and they say, ‘We better go and get vaccinated,” Hutchinson said.

Right now, the COVID-19 vaccine demand in the state is up. On Wednesday, Arkansas recorded more than 10,000 shots in a single day, and that is the highest they’ve seen since May.



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