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Tracking COVID-19 in the ArkLaTex

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Arkansas judge dismisses lawsuit challenging virus mandates

Arkansas

Gov. Asa Hutchinson removes his mask before a briefing at the state capitol Monday‚ July 2020 in Little Rock. As more states are enacting requirements for people to wear masks to curb a surge of coronavirus cases, they’re facing resistance from the police expected to enforce those orders. Several law enforcement agencies in Arkansas have said they won’t enforce Hutchinson’s mask mandate that took effect this week. (Staci Vandagriff/The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit by a group of Republican legislators challenging a mask mandate and other restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ruled that the directives Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s administration has issued are within his authority under state law and legislative rules. The lawsuit filed by 18 GOP lawmakers argued the restrictions required legislative approval.

Republican Rep. Dan Sullivan, who led the lawsuit effort, said he planned to appeal Griffen’s ruling and would have further comment later Wednesday.

Arkansas was among a handful of states that didn’t issue a stay-at-home order in response to the pandemic, but has issued other restrictions including capacity limits on bars and restaurants. Hutchinson on Tuesday ruled out rolling back any of the state’s reopening, despite a recent surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Arkansas ranks 10th in the country for new virus cases per capita, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. There have been 1,611 COVID-19 deaths in the state since the pandemic began.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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