Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson regrets signing mask mandate
The second-term governor says the ban on face mask mandates was misguided in hindsight
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he regrets signing a statewide ban on face mask mandates in the spring now as the state struggles to mitigate a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Hutchinson is now attempting to undo the law, calling on the state Legislature to take action to let local school districts decide whether or not to require that students wear facial coverings as the Delta variant spreads.
“Yes, in hindsight, I wish that it had not become law. But it is the law, and the only chance we have is either to amend it or for the courts to say that it has an unconstitutional foundation,” said Hutchinson at a Tuesday press conference, CBS News reports.
The law states that “the use of a face mask, face shield, or other face covering shall not be a condition for entry, education, or services,” according to the official document.
Hutchinson publicly defended the statewide ban on mask mandates during an appearance on CNN last month. He said then that the state was focused on vaccinations when the ban was introduced in April.
“At that point, we had very low case rates in Arkansas and people knew exactly what to do,” Hutchinson said. “They were capable of making their decisions.”
In addition to Arkansas, there have been several other states that have issued bans on mask mandates. Other states include Vermont, South Carolina, Iowa, Arkansas, Texas, Florida, Arizona and Utah, banning schools from making masks mandatory in classrooms, according to CBS.
The United States has struggled with a surge in positive cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19. The country is now averaging 100,000 new COVID-19 infections a day, caseloads not seen since the winter surge.
In Arkansas’ neighboring state of Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards is seriously considering a statewide mask mandate as cases increase, as previously reported by theGrio.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell recently issued a citywide mask mandate and ordered all city employees to get vaccinated.
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