Arkansas Governor Regrets Banning Mask Mandates

Asa Hutchinson now wants schools to be able to make people mask up
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2021 12:13 PM CDT
Ark. Governor Wishes Mask Law He Signed Never Happened
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks during a town hall meeting in Texarkana, Ark. A group of Democratic lawmakers in Arkansas, which has the nation's highest COVID-19 rate, urged the governor to lift the state's ban on schools and government entities requiring people to wear masks.   (Kelsi Brinkmeyer/The Texarkana Gazette via AP, File)

Hindsight is 20/20, or so realized Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, who on Tuesday said of his state's ban on mask mandates, "In hindsight, I wish that it had not become law." The ban, which he signed into law himself back in April, is bugging him now as Arkansas is swamped with another wave of infections and schools are unable to impose mask mandates, the New York Times reports. "Our cases were at a very low point," Hutchinson said of his thinking at the time. Now, without widespread mask wearing and with low vaccination rates, the virus is spreading quickly there. Hutchinson says he hopes the law will be amended or overturned by a court.

State health secretary Jose Romero said cases among kids were up 500% between April and July, reports the Washington Post. Hutchinson now wants schools to have the power to be able to ask everyone to mask up. "Local school districts should make the call," he said. The ban is popular with Hutchinson’s conservative backers, and other southern states have similar ones. South Carolina, Mississippi, and Florida have either banned or said they won't impose mask mandates in their schools. Hindsight isn't completely 20/20, however, as Hutchinson says he still supports bans on mask mandates for adults, the Hill reports. (More face masks stories.)

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