LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Sunday that he believes his proposal to remove a mask mandate intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus will take place as planned at the end of the month.
On CNN’s ‘State of the Union,' Hutchinson said goals announced in February to lift the mask mandate, which include a positivity rate below 10%, or fewer than 750 hospitalizations, are being met and he believes the mask requirement will be lifted.
“I set some goals. And we’re making those goals. So, I expect that (mandate) to be lifted,” Hutchinson said. “Common sense is going to replace mandates. And I think that’s where we are right now. You cannot go beyond the toleration of the American public” to a mandate.
Hutchinson said he believes people will continue wearing masks when social distancing is not possible or they are otherwise at risk of virus exposure.
Hutchinson's February announcement lifted restrictions on capacity limits on bars, restaurants, gyms and large venues.
The state’s positivity rate was 9% on Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and the Arkansas Department of Health on Sunday reported 192 people hospitalized due to the virus.
The health department reported 328,655 total virus cases and 5,539 deaths.