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Hutchinson seeks to lift ban on school mask mandates

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ Republican governor is calling lawmakers back to the Capitol to lift the state’s ban on mask requirements in public schools.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday said he’ll call the majority-Republican Legislature into session likely next week to amend a state law that prohibits state and local government entities from requiring face masks.

Arkansas’ coronavirus cases have skyrocketed in recent weeks because of the Delta variant and the state’s low vaccination rate.

Also at his Thursday press conference, Hutchinson said he reinstated an emergency declaration for the next 60 days because of the virus, two months after he lifted the declaration he issued at the state of the pandemic last year. But the governor stressed on Thursday that he will not impose a statewide mask mandate.

Over 2,800 new cases were reported yesterday — one of the largest days since the pandemic started, but not the highest. Hospitalizations decreased, but the number of hospitalized on ventilators increased.

On the plus side in terms of vaccines: 10,000 more doses were given over the last 24 hours on Thursday.

“There will be no statewide mask mandate imposed by me,” -Gov. Hutchinson

For more COVID-19 information from the Arkansas Department of Health, click here.

For information from local physicians about COVID-19 vaccines, click here.


If you have yet to be immunized against COVID-19, White River Now urges you to talk to your trusted local physician about the COVID-19 vaccine. Get up-to-date local and regional news along with the latest sports and weather every weekday morning by listening to Gary B. on Ozark Newsline, broadcast from the First Community Bank Newsroom on Arkansas 103.3. White River Now updates are also aired weekday mornings on 93 KZLEOutlaw 106.5, and Your FM 99.5. Have a news tip or event to promote? Email White River Now at news@whiterivernow.com. Be sure to like and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. And don’t forget to download the White River Now mobile app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

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