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0000017d-2122-dd26-adfd-e56710ac0000IMPORTANT RESOURCESArkansas Department of Health's COVID-19 Update PageADH Coronavirus Hotline: 1-800-803-7847 (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. M-F) After normal business hours, urgent calls needing immediate response call 501-661-2136Gov. Asa Hutchinson's statewide mask mandate goes into effect July 20

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson Issues Model Mask Ordinance

July 3, 2020 4:16 p.m. -- Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced an executive order mandating masks be worn in Arkansas, during his daily press briefing Friday in Little Rock.

“I want all 500 cities in Arkansas to have a common approach to mask ordinances,” he said. Fayetteville, Eureka Springs and Little Rock all have differing municipal mask rules.

Hutchinson said all municipalities now have the option and authority to adopt the model ordinance requiring the wearing of masks, especially cities and towns seeing a surge of COVID-19 cases. 

“By not wearing a mask you pose a direct threat to your community,” said John Wilkerson, general counsel for the Municipal League, which drafted the model ordinance. 

Wilkerson said the ordinance is non-punative, that cities can call on law enforcement and officials to educate and encourage the use of masks. The ordinance he said is especially geared to supporting local businesses that want patrons to wear masks. 

At the briefing the Arkansas Department of Health confirmed 547 new positive coronavirus cases today, for a total of 22,622 diagnosed cases since the pandemic was declared on March 11th. Arkansas has a total of 6,177 active cases, most occuring in communities, with a small portion in nursing homes and prisons. Two additional deaths occurred yesterday, for a total of 281. Washington County has the highest number of new cases at 84, Benton County 74, and Pulaski 74.

Hutchinson also released preliminary results from a statewide COVID-19 survey, taken in late June by The Runway Group, a recreational company based in Bentonville, asking 600 likely voters if they wore masks in public places. Of those 82 percent said yes.  Those surveyed who refuse to wear face coverings believe masks are not necessary to contain the virus, or that the virus is hoax. The survey has a margin of error +/- 4 percent. 

You can watch the entire daily briefing here.

Jacqueline Froelich is an investigative reporter and news producer for Ozarks at Large.