Arkansas Governor Calls Ban on Mask Mandates an ‘Error’
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said on Sunday he made a mistake in signing a law banning mask warrants in his state.
“It was a mistake to sign this law. I admit it, ”Mr. Hutchinson, a Republican, said on CBS’s“ Face the Nation ”.
Arkansas, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, has seen cases approaching the number of outbreaks last winter. It now has a seven-day moving average of 2,351 new cases daily.
“Facts change and leaders need to adapt to new facts and the reality of what you are facing,” said Hutchinson. “Every time I signed this law our cases were low, we were hoping everything was gone, in terms of the virus, but it came back with the Delta variant.”
Mr Hutchinson signed the bill banning mask warrants in April, and he had been pushing to change it in the wake of increased cases and outbreaks in schools. But the state legislature refused to pass the new legislation. A judge temporarily blocked the ban on Friday, allowing schools and other government entities in Arkansas to demand masks.
Mr Hutchinson said vaccination rates in the state were improving, but noted that children under 12 are still not eligible for Covid vaccines. “We are pushing back vaccines, but children under 12 cannot get vaccinated in schools,” Hutchinson said. “So I realized we needed to have more options for our local school districts to protect these kids. “
In Marion, Ark., More than 800 people were in quarantine after dozens of teachers and students tested positive. “For those under 12, we want them to go to school and we have to have that flexibility because they are at some risk,” he said.
About 49 percent of Arkansans have received at least one injection, an improvement Mr Hutchinson attributed to factors such as community town halls and people’s proximity to risk.
“People see the hospitalizations, they see the cases, they see what is happening to their neighbors, they worry about it, and they go out and get vaccinated.”
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