The governor of Arkansas admitted Sunday that his law banning mask mandates in the state was an ‘error’.
Gov Asa Hutchinson made the admission less than two weeks after he defended his ban.
Now as Arkansas, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation, is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, Hutchinson is saying that new policies may be necessary.
‘It was an error to sign that law. I admit that,’ he said, explaining that he realized that school districts needed more options to protect children, especially those who were not old enough to get vaccinated.
‘Facts change, and leaders have to adjust to the new facts and the reality of what you have to deal with,’ Hutchinson said on CBS News’ Face the Nation. ‘Whenever I signed that law, our cases were low, we were hoping that the whole thing was gone, in terms of the virus, but it roared back with the Delta variant.’
Gov. Asa Hutchinson admitted during an interview on CBS Sunday that his law banning mask mandates in Arkansas was an ‘error’
In late March, Arkansas lawmakers approved SB 590, a bill that prohibited the state from reimposing a mask mandate to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The proposal granted exceptions to private businesses, health care facilities, and correctional facilities which could impose compulsory mask rules if they wished.
That measure was passed in April, just a day after Hutchinson lifted the state’s coronavirus mask requirement.
The Senate voted 20-9 in favor of the measure prohibiting mandatory face coverings, sending the measure to the House, where it was passed with ease by the Republican-dominated majority.
Hutchinson has previously said he signed the measure into law because it ‘was the will of the General Assembly,’ noting that Arkansas’ legislators are ‘capable of making their decisions’.
“It was an error to sign that law,” Arkansas Gov. @AsaHutchinson says of his previous support for bill banning local mask mandates. “I realized that we needed to have more options for our local school districts to protect those children.” pic.twitter.com/NTM1GCl5NQ
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) August 8, 2021
Hutchinson said the bill, which prohibited the state from reimposing a mask mandate to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, was enacted when the state’s cases were low
Hutchinson stands next to a chart displaying COVID-19 hospitalization data indicating a surge in the state as he speaks at a news conference at the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. on July 29
Now, in wake of the rising case count and outbreaks in schools, the Republican governor said Sunday that signing the bill was a mistake and has taken steps to try and modify the legislation.
Hutchinson said he asked the legislature to ‘redo the law’ but they refused to act, prompting a judge to temporarily block the measure on Friday.
‘Thank goodness if the legislature did not act this week, which they didn’t, the court stepped in and held that [law] as unconstitutional,’ Hutchinson told CBS. ‘Now we have that local flexibility for schools to make their decision to protect the children based upon the unique circumstances of their district.’
While the governor has expressed regret for signing the mask ban, he did reiterate that he does not support vaccine mandates but believes leaders should educate their community members to increase vaccination rates.
‘I don’t support a vaccine mandate,’ he said. ‘We can do it through education, but I do expect that broader acceptance of the vaccine- I do expect that some employers in sensitive industries will require vaccines. But you have to have the FDA approval before that is more broadly accepted.’
He also argued that to see an increase in vaccination rates, medical experts must ‘dispel the myths’ surrounding the shots and that the FDA needs to issue final approval of the vaccines.
Currently, the three shots used in the USA – from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – only have emergency FDA approval.
The Arkansas Department of Health released updated COVID-19 data for the state on Sunday, indicating an increase in active cases of coronavirus
Arkansas number of daily cases, showing an increase as high as the cases reported at the beginning of the year
A graph showing the number of daily COVID-19 deaths in Arkansas since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak started last spring
A graph indicating the number of daily deaths in the last 90 days in Arkansas, showing an ascendant curve in July
The Arkansas Department of Health released updated COVID-19 data for the state on Sunday, indicating an increase in active cases of coronavirus.
Health officials reported 1,369 new cases, raising the total case count to 404,277. The active case count went up to 23,921 after an increase of 21.
The state now has a seven-day rolling average of 2,351 new daily cases.
The health department also reported 11 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the state’s total fatalities to 6,301.
33 new hospitalizations were also reported.
Arkansas has 1,095,166 residents who are fully vaccinated against the virus. 2,410 people became fully immunized in the last 24 hours.
According to the CDC, 166,203,176 Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Friday. The White House said this accounts for more than half of the U.S. population
Nationally, 166,203,176 people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to CDC data released Friday. The White House said this accounts for more than half of the U.S. population.
194,346,486 individuals have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
The seven-day average of newly vaccinated people is up 11 percent from last week, and up 44 percent over the past two weeks.
Daily new cases, deaths and hospitalizations have risen sharply in recent weeks. Last week, there was an average of 90,000 new coronavirus cases per day, with Florida and Texas accounting for a third of them, the White House said.
The United States is back up to around 380 COVID-19 deaths a day, with hospitalizations averaging 7,300 a day over a week.
The level of community transmission of the virus is ‘high’ or ‘substantial’ in 85 percent of the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
The United States is the nation hardest-hit by the pandemic, with 615,000 deaths.
Daily new cases, deaths and hospitalizations have risen sharply in recent weeks. Last week, there was an average of 90,000 new coronavirus cases per day, with Florida and Texas accounting for a third of them, the White House said
The United States is back up to around 380 COVID-19 deaths a day, with hospitalizations averaging 7,300 a day over a week