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Mask Mandate in Effect for All of Arkansas Starting Monday

Arkansas Department of Health
Credit Arkansas Department of Health

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchison announced today that he is issuing an executive order requiring face coverings.  He cited multiple reasons for the timing of this order including the rising number of cases, encouragement to do so from health authorities, and setting an example for students who will be required to wear them upon returning to in-person instruction in the fall.

Use of masks will be required among non-household members in all indoor environments when six-foot social distancing is not possible.  Use of masks will also be required outdoors when those distances cannot be maintained.

There are multiple exceptions for required uses of face coverings including eating, participating in athletic activities, giving a public speech, and performing job duties which would not allow use of a mask.  Children under ten are also exempt as well as those people with medical conditions for whom wearing a face mask would not be beneficial.

Regarding enforcement of the ordinance, the governor stated that violations would be a misdemeanor punishable by fines between 100 and 500 dollars.  For a first time offense, individuals would receive only a warning, and no one under age 18 would be fined.  The governor added that police could not detain, arrest or jail anyone who violated the order, but police may enforce trespassing laws, assisting business owners if patrons refuse to wear a mask and then refuse to leave the premises.

The governor called the face covering order “the best opportunity to get life back to normal.”  He added that this requirement is only one part of an overall plan to combat covid.

Baptist Health Systems CEO Troy Wells spoke at today’s gubernatorial covid-19 press conference.  He noted that the total number of patients in intensive care at the 11 Baptist hospitals in the state is down over the past month, but he added that the percentage of those in ICU with covid has doubled during that time period.

Wells also announced that clinical trials for a covid vaccine will take place in Arkansas.  Residents are invited to apply to participate in the trials, but participants must have NOT been working from home over the past 90 days.  A website has been created with information about these trials.  It is ArkansasCovidVaccine.com.

Total cumulative cases is now at 31,114, an increase of 817 over the past 24 hours.

There have been six deaths during the past day, bringing the total number to 341.

Covid hospitalizations stand at 470, an increase of 12 from yesterday.

101 patients are currently on a ventilator, an increase of seven from yesterday.

6,020 tests were completed in the past 24 hours with a positivity rate of 7-point-six percent.

Pulaski county continues to lead the state in the number of new cases with 114 since yesterday.  Craighead County is the only county in the KASU listening area with more than 20 new cases.  22 residents in Craighead County received positive test results in the past day.

General Dynamics, a private contractor with the state, is now in the process of contact tracing an additional 1000 cases.

Copyright 2020 KASU