Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson says he regrets signing a ban on mask mandates into law as his state experiences a surge in cases caused by the quickly spreading delta variant.
In April the Republican governor approved the ban on state and local mask requirements. However, the law doesn’t prohibit businesses from requiring masks and the law doesn’t apply to multiple industries like healthcare facilities and some others.
According to The Washington Examiner:
When asked by a reporter this week whether or not he regretted his decision to sign the legislation, Hutchinson conceded that he thought it wasn’t a good idea.
“I signed it for those reasons that our cases were at a low point,” he said. “Everything has changed now, and yes, in hindsight, I wish that 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.”
Last Thursday, Hutchinson reimposed a state public health emergency and convened a special session to amend the mask mandate prohibition in a bid to allow more flexibility in public schools. The governor cited a lack of Food and Drug Administration approval for vaccine use on children under the age of 12.
Over the last 14 days, Arkansas has seen a 69% rise in cases, a 52% jump in hospitalizations, and a 246% uptick in deaths. The state has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, as 39% of residents are fully vaccinated, while 47% have received at least one dose.
Over concerns for the recent uptick in Coronavirus cases, some cities such as Washington, D.C. have begun implementing mask mandates.