The GOP governor of Arkansas, where vaccines are lagging and COVID-19 is surging, said it’s ‘disappointing’ vaccines are ‘political’

Asa Hutchinson
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks at a news conference at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015.

  • Arkansas is among the states seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, as many residents are unvaccinated.
  • Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said it’s “disappointing” that vaccines have become “political.”
  • He’s been traveling throughout the state to combat hesitancy and encourage people to get the shot.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Thursday it’s “disappointing” vaccines have become “political,” as his state deals with a COVID-19 surge.

Hutchinson, a Republican, was speaking to Greta Van Susteren on her show “Full Court Press” when the host asked him about the state’s low vaccination rate.

“That’s a big challenge for us,” Hutchinson said, noting that there is lots of vaccine resistance. “It’s a conservative state. Sometimes conservatives are hesitant about the government. And we just got to counteract that by getting better information to them, building confidence.”

Read more: Don’t punish the vaccinated – make it harder to choose to be unvaccinated

In Arkansas, 44.8% of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated, while 52.1% has received at least one dose. That leaves the state with one of the lowest vaccination rates per capita. Only Alabama and Mississippi have a smaller percentage of fully vaccinated residents, according to CDC data compiled by the Mayo Clinic.

Susteren asked Hutchinson about how vaccine hesitancy happens along political lines.

“It is disappointing that there’s a political part to this,” he said.

Vaccine hesitancy has been especially prominent among Republicans and in counties that voted for former President Donald Trump.

But Hutchinson said he both supported Trump and got the vaccine, and noted that Trump himself is also vaccinated. He also said that in Arkansas, where more than 65% of the vote went to Trump, tens of thousands of people had already gotten the vaccine.

Arkansas is among the states seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases as the Delta variant rapidly spreads. Hutchinson has been traveling around the state to address vaccine hesitancy and encourage people to get vaccinated, NPR reported.

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After a Hillsong Church member who derided the vaccine online died of COVID-19, its founder called the shot a ‘personal decision’

Brian Houston on the "TODAY" show.
Brian Houston on the “TODAY” show.

  • A Hillsong Church member in his 30s died of COVID-19 this week after declining to get vaccinated.
  • The man, who lived in California, had derided the vaccine online and joked about the coronavirus.
  • Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston told CNN the vaccine was a “personal decision.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After a congregant of the Hillsong Church in California refused to get vaccinated and died from COVID-19 complications, its founder is not encouraging the shot.

Brian Houston, founder and global senior pastor at Hillsong, told CNN vaccines are a “personal decision for each individual to make with the counsel of medical professionals.”

Stephen Harmon, who was in his early 30s, was part of a Hillsong Church in California and a graduate of Hillsong College in Mesa, Arizona. Houston said on Instagram Thursday Harmon had died from COVID-19.

Read more: Don’t punish the vaccinated – make it harder to choose to be unvaccinated

“He was one of the most generous people I know and he had so much in front of him,” Houston wrote.

Hillsong Church, based in Australia, is a popular megachurch with celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Vanessa Hudgens. Recently, the church has been accused of racist and anti-LGBTQ behavior.

Prior to his death, Harmon had makes jokes online about the coronavirus and said he was not vaccinated, Insider’s Ashley Collman reported.

In a June 3 tweet, he referenced Jay-Z’s song “99 Problems” and wrote: “If you’re having email problems, I feel bad for you, son. I got 99 problems but a vax ain’t one!”

On July 8, he again posted an anti-vaccine joke even after he was sick with COVID-19 and in an isolation ward, writing: “And no, i will not be getting vaccinated once i am discharged and released.”

In his post about Harmon, Houston wrote, “Stephen’s thoughts on vaccines were his own.”

“They do not represent the views and thoughts of Hillsong Church. Many of our pastors, staff, and congregation are fully vaccinated and more will be when vaccines become available to them in their countries,” he added.

Insider has reached out to Hillsong Church for comment.

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Robinhood CEO says the company is all-in on crypto and that users can expect new crypto features at ‘some point’

Baiju Bhatt_Vlad Tenev_Co Founders and Co CEOs
Baiju Bhatt and Vlad Tenev cofounders and CEOs of Robinhood

  • Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev says the company is focused on expanding its crypto offerings.
  • He said users can expect a crypto wallet at “some point.”
  • It’s a glimpse at the company’s future ahead of it’s highly anticipated IPO.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev announced Saturday that crypto is a lynchpin of the retail investment app’s future, and a wallet could be in the works.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to provide our crypto customers with the functionality that they’ve been asking for,” he said. “We know you want wallets.”

Users can expect a beta release of new crypto features at “some point,” he said, but did not provide any further timeline. It’s a more tentative proclamation than he’s previously made. Back in March, Tenev promised users a crypto wallet “as fast as possible.”

Robinhood users currently can’t transfer crypto assets in and out of their account, potentially driving some customers to platforms like Coinbase. However, Tenev said that will be fixed as well.

“We want to introduce new features safely,” he said. “And there’s a lot of items we have to get right from the start.”

Tenev’s statements came during Robinhood’s public roadshow Saturday, where the company’s top executives fielded questions from the public about its upcoming IPO, planned for Thursday.

It’s been clear for awhile that Robinhood, founded in 2013, was veering into the crypto world. In the company’s S-1, it revealed that 17% of its first quarter revenue came from cryptocurrency transactions.

But the company has admitted that crypto trading might be a liability. Dogecoin made up 34% of Robinhood’s first quarter crypto-trading revenue, according to its IPO filing. If interest in the meme coin declines, the company said it could be a risk to the business.

Especially in light of the many, many headlines about the company, Robinhood’s IPO is highly anticipated. In its regulatory filing, the company said it’s aiming to raise as much as $2.3 billion, with a market valuation at $35 billion at the top range. In line with company’s mission to “democratize finance,” it will offer a third of its shares directly to customers through its app.

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