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Arkansas virus cases, hospitalizations continue to decrease

Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he’s still considering removing the state’s mask mandate at the end of March even as many residents turn down a coronavirus vaccine.

Speaking Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” the Republican governor said the vaccine skepticism in the state is “troubling.”

“Whenever we are opening up eligibility for the vaccine, we’re moving through it very quickly because we’re not having everybody sign up to take it,” he said.

As of Sunday, nearly 300,000 people in Arkansas had been fully vaccinated, or about 10% of the state’s population. The state reported 130 new cases of the virus and 19 more deaths, while hospitalizations continued to decline.

Hutchinson is considering removing the Arkansas’ mask mandate at the end of March if the state meets certain benchmarks. That’s in contrast to the swift rollback of restrictions in neighboring Texas and Mississippi.

“I think the time in this pandemic for heavy-handed restrictions and mandates are going by the wayside so people can make good judgments,” Hutchinson said Sunday. “And we expect that to happen even after March 31st if the mask mandate is lifted.”

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