BATESVILLE, Ark. – As Arkansas’ active COVID cases rise above 7,000, Governor Hutchinson visited Batesville for his second COVID Community Conversation in an effort to increase the vaccination rate around the state and answer the community’s concerns.
This latest conversation revolved around schools and vaccine hesitancy, with many concerned about kids returning to class next month.
For some, the discussion answered their concerns, but others are still looking for ways to do more and hope these conversations will make a difference.
The Batesville Community Center held a large crowd as Independence County neighbors filled in to have their COVID questions answered.
Among them was Joey Markowski, who attended to support his wife – a registered nurse administering vaccines. He says this third spike has left her frustrated and wants to know what else can be done.
“The hope is he can give us some clear answers on the direction the state needs to take,” Markowski said. “There’s a real concern that we’re going right back to where we were before vaccinations.”
Another thing was schools, with many concerned about the safety of kids and what families can do when school is back in session. Governor Hutchinson answered: if you’re eligible, get vaccinated.
“If we do not increase the vaccination rate,” he asked, “what kind of school year are we going to have?”
But not everyone had a question. The conversation turned to vaccine hesitancy, and how likely somewhere to get the shot.
“They’ve changed their story multiple times, people don’t trust the government,” one attendee said. “I will be shocked if most of these people who are unvaccinated will be vaccinated.”
Hutchinson says the focus needs to be on those on the fence and hopes, along with Markowski, these community conversations with up the rate.
“You’ve got to go after those who are just simply hesitant or have more questions or have just put it off,” Hutchinson explained.
The governor will next head to Forrest City and Blytheville to continue his community conversations.
Watch the full COVID Community Conversation HERE.