Arkansas' Republican governor regrets banning masks, seeking to reinstate mandate

Brandon Sapienza
New York Daily News (TNS)
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) pictured on July 19, 2016. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)

As cases increase rapidly among unvaccinated individuals in Arkansas, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said that he regrets his April ban on mask mandates and is hoping to reverse course.

Speaking on “Good Morning America,” Hutchinson said that his rationale behind is new view of masks was because “the delta variant hit us hard.”

Cases among kids in Arkansas have risen by 517% between April and July, according to the Associated Press.

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Only 42% of Arkansas residents ages 12 and up are at least partially vaccinated. With such a high percentage of citizens unvaccinated, the state is experiencing massive spikes in cases. On Wednesday, health officials from the state recorded 3,000 new cases of COVID-19 with 1,232 people hospitalized.

“There’s been a lot of distrust and we hope to overcome that because medical sciences, vaccines work, I believe, and we need to get those out — because that’s the way out of this,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson remains the sole Republican governor who has spoken out in favor of mask mandates. Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas, Ron DeSantis of Florida, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Doug Ducey of Arizona and Kristi Noem of South Dakota have all advocated for individuals to make their own decision about whether or not they would mask up as the Delta variant continues to spread.

Arkansas’ leading gubernatorial candidate, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has already denounced mask and vaccine mandates and would institute policies echoing that sentiment if she is elected.

“If I am elected governor here in Arkansas we will not have mask mandates, we will not have mandates on the vaccine, we will not shut down churches and schools and other large gatherings, because we believe in personal freedom and responsibility,” she said last month to Fox News.