Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said Sunday he changed his mind about a bill he signed in April to ban mask mandates across the state because “facts change,” and admitted that signing it at a time when COVID-19 cases were low in his state was “an error.”
“Facts change and leaders have to adjust to the new facts that you have and the reality of what you have to deal with,” the Republican governor said on “Face the Nation.” “I realized that we needed to have more options for our local school districts to protect those children. And so I asked the legislature to redo the law that prohibited those requirements or those options for the school districts to protect the children. And so it was an error to sign that law.”
Children under 12 are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and with the Delta variant on the rise and schools soon to reopen in the fall, Hutchinson said he wanted to give school districts the flexibility to decide whether to require masks or not. On Friday, an Arkansas judge temporarily blocked the state from enforcing the ban after the state lawmakers left it in place despite Hutchinson’s call for them to reverse the law.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) admits "it was an error" to sign a law prohibiting school districts from implementing mask mandates pic.twitter.com/csjGmJOrTM
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 8, 2021
Unvaccinated children aren’t the only ones at risk of catching COVID-19 from the Delta variant. Hutchinson said because the Delta variant is so transmissible, it’s affecting “every population” in his state. The governor said another way to make the COVID-19 vaccine more “broadly accepted” is for the Food and Drug Administration to grant them final approval. While he said this would not convince him to support vaccine mandates in Arkansas, Hutchinson called on the Biden administration to take this action to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated.
.@FaceTheNation reported that we moved from 46th to 38th in first vaccine doses by state. Thanks for making this happen. @ScottGottliebMD predicted cases may slow. While hopeful, we haven’t seen it yet. We have time before school starts to get more doses out. That is the key. pic.twitter.com/BDg6Htlq26
— Gov. Asa Hutchinson (@AsaHutchinson) August 8, 2021
Ultimately, Hutchinson changed his mind because of parents who advocated for the safety and health of their children. Two mothers with young children are suing the state, seeking “protection from an irrational act of legislative madness.” Veronica McClane and Ashley Simmons sat down with MSNBC’s Alicia Menendez to explain how bad the COVID19 crisis is in Arkansas and what they believe will happen next with their lawsuit. Watch their segment, below.