Republican Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson had the opportunity to lead his state in the fight against COVID by pressing for policies that address effective treatments and prevention. Instead, he asks the state legislature to repeal their recent law prohibiting local governments from mandating masks without restriction.
Hutchinson announced last week that he is seeking a review and repeal of the law that mainly protects children in public schools. The law currently provides that no facility receiving government funds from the state can require that masks be worn.
Vaccine-ineligible children under the age of 12 who do not have COVID are exempt from wearing masks in school. Several school districts plan to advise that masks be worn, but they cannot need them.
The governor is reacting to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recent uncertainty about the efficacy of COVID immunizations. Hutchinson repeated the CDC and White House talking points in calling for the special session. Expressing great concern about elementary school-age children spreading the virus to others, he overlooks all of the evidence gathered.
The Arkansas mask prohibition was passed in April over Hutchinson’s objections. Under the state constitution and the significant Republican majority in the state legislature, the governor could not effectively veto the law.
Given the substantial Republican majority, the legislature could use the special session as an opportunity to further protect Arkansas citizens from further federal encroachment on personal medical decisions.
The state could place physicians employed at testing centers to immediately prescribe affordable drugs known to address the symptoms of COVID-19. Stiffer penalties could be added for violation of the existing mask mandate, especially those concerning young children. Republicans could move to prohibit quarantines, which are ineffective against coronavirus in any event.
The state could provide at relatively minimal cost key minerals and vitamins supplements that are proven effective against COVID-19 among all age groups.
If Arkansas Republicans have the will to make it happen, Hutchinson can be given a special session that he may not expect. It could also become a shining example for every other state for adequate COVID controls and not the unscientific mandates coming down from the CDC.