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Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson Lifts the State’s Public Health Emergency

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks on COVID-19 vaccinations at the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. Hutchinson requested a special legislative session in early August 2021, requesting that lawmakers carve out an exception for schools in a bill banning mask mandates. They said no. An Arkansas judge has temporarily banned the bill, ruling it unconstitutional. Legal battles are also raging in other states, including Missouri, where a mask mandate in St. Louis County is being challenged. (Photo: Andrew Demillo)

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on Tuesday that he had lifted the state’s public health emergency declaration for the coronavirus pandemic, stating that he did not require more authority to respond.

Hutchinson told reporters he did not seek a legislative extension for the emergency declaration, which expired on Monday. Hutchinson emphasized, however, that the state is still suffering from the impacts of COVID-19, which the state’s Health Department reported had claimed another 21 lives on Tuesday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson gets his covid-19 booster shot Tuesday from Neldia Dycus, regional director of the state Health Department. At the same time, first lady Susan Hutchinson waits for hers before the start of the governor’s weekly briefing (Photo: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

The State is Still in Dire Situation

Hutchinson remarked during his weekly news conference that he must highlight that we are still amid a pandemic. Yet, there still over a dozen of people who cannot make it alive because of COVID-19.  He also said in the conference that just because the technical emergency has not been extended does not mean they are not still in a dire situation with the pandemic and the necessary actions, per The Associate Press.

Hutchinson also said he had let his public health emergency proclamation expire a day earlier because he did not need any more authorities to intervene during this period of the pandemic, according to his weekly press conference at the state Capitol.

Extending the emergency beyond Monday would have required Hutchinson to submit a request to the Legislative Council at least ten days in advance, according to Act 403, signed by the governor in March.

Meanwhile, Arkansas repealed the majority of its viral restrictions last spring, including a statewide mask ban. However, Hutchinson reinstated the emergency in July, citing an increase in infections caused by the delta version of the virus.

Delta Variant : Increase of COVID-19 Cases

According to the Health Department, the state’s mortality toll from COVID-19 has now reached 7,651. Since the epidemic began, the state reported an increase of 800 cases to 493,920. The hospital’s COVID-19 patient population decreased by 26 to 809. According to Johns Hopkins University researchers, Arkansas ranks 24th in the US for new cases per capita.

Hutchinson and First Lady Susan Hutchinson and state Health Secretary Jose Romero had a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday.

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