Conservative GOP governor now regrets signing law forbidding local mask mandates in Arkansas

Conservative GOP governor now regrets signing law forbidding local mask mandates in Arkansas

In some of the southern states that are being slammed by COVID-19's highly infectious Delta variant, Republican governors have not only rejected statewide mask mandates — they have also forbidden cities and counties from having local mask mandates. For example, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, on July 30, issued an executive order banning school districts from requiring protective face masks. But Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is now saying that he regrets signing into law a statewide ban on mask mandates.

At a press conference this week, Hutchinson explained his reasons for going along with that Arkansas law rather than vetoing it. Hutchinson told reporters, "I signed it…. (because) our cases were at a low point. 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."

The conservative Hutchinson, who chaired the Arkansas Republican Party from 1990-1995 and served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1997-2001, was first elected governor of Arkansas in 2014 and was reelected in 2018. But Hutchinson will not be able to seek a third term in 2022 because of gubernatorial term limits, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders — daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former White House press secretary in the Trump Administration — is seeking the 2022 GOP gubernatorial nomination. Sanders is a devout Trump supporter who panders to the lowest common denominator by bashing expert immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, but she is not an anti-vaxxer; Sanders is urging Arkansas residents to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and receive the "Trump vaccine."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% of U.S. adults have now been at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19. But vaccination rates vary wildly from state to state. In Arkansas, according to the Mayo Clinic, only 47% of the state's population has been at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19 — compared to 72% in Massachusetts or 75% in Vermont.

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