Arkansas Democrats push Republicans to end ban on mask mandates

Arkansas Democrats push Republicans to end ban on mask mandates
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Arkansas Democratic lawmakers are urging their GOP counterparts to end the state’s ban on mask mandates, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

In a letter to Gov. Asa HutchinsonAsa HutchinsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Biden's .5 trillion plan will likely have to shrink Sunday shows - Manchin says he won't vote for .5 trillion bill GOP governor: Biden's vaccine mandate 'increases the division' MORE (R), Democratic lawmakers asked the governor to call for a special legislative session on the issue of the mask mandate ban. 

The lawmakers mentioned how the state’s health care workers are struggling with the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, adding that there’s no need to "pile on." 

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“Our frontline workers are re-living long, difficult hours of doing whatever it takes to care for COVID-stricken patients as hospitals are at or very nearly at capacity,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter. “We get the numbers every day. We know what’s happening, so there is no need to pile on about our present statewide condition.” 

The lawmakers noted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated guidelines, which state that unvaccinated children and adults should continue wearing masks. 

The letter comes after Hutchison in April signed legislation that bans mask mandates, according to the AP. 

“The best tool to fight the Delta variant and have a safe school year is to increase the vaccination rate in the state," Hutchison said in a statement to The Hill. "I have not had any local school leaders reach out regarding an amendment to the law prohibiting mask mandates.”

Thirty-five percent of Arkansas adults and children are fully vaccinated, which is well below the national average of 48 percent of the country being fully vaccinated against the virus.

Arkansas officials reported 1,459 new COVID-19 cases and 33 new COVID-19-related hospitalizations on Wednesday, the AP noted.