Arkansas became the latest state to lift its mask mandate when Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on Tuesday that the state would no longer require residents to wear a covering over their nose and mouth.
His decision to reverse the mask mandate, he said, was based on a state evaluation. In order for masks to no longer be required, the positivity rate in Arkansas must be 10% or less for the seven-day rolling average, with at least 7,500 samples tested daily.
Cartoons on the Coronavirus
Secondly, if less than 7,500 samples are tested in a day, then hospitalizations will serve as the benchmark, with no more than 750 patients hospitalized.
Hutchinson said the state has fallen below the testing threshold and is basing his decision on the number of people hospitalized in the state, which stands at 170, an increase of six over the last 24 hours but still under the threshold.
The state saw 178 new COVID-19 cases and 15 new deaths over the last day, bringing its total to more than 330,180 cases and 5,616 deaths.
Despite the reversal of the mandate, Hutchinson said “this does not mean the use of the mask will cease.”
“This mask … will continue to be a part of my wardrobe as I leave the house and go to work every day because there will be many times during the day that I will wear the mask,” the governor said. “While I’ve been vaccinated, it’s important to be courteous of others and to be mindful that we need to protect ourselves and others. Commonsense should govern.”
He asked the public to continue to respect the decisions of businesses and venues that ask people to wear masks, such as restaurants, stores, schools that decide to continue a mask policy, hospitals and health care providers and salons.