Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson on Thursday issued a statewide mandate for people to wear masks in public amid a surge of coronavirus cases. The executive order goes into effect on July 20, according to CBS affiliate KTHV-TV.
Hutchinson made the announcement as the state faces an increase of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths. He also said doctors and nurses on the frontlines against the coronavirus pandemic have urged the public to do more to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
The state, which reopened in May to revive its economy, allowed cities to require face coverings, but COVID-19 continued to infect people. The order said masks must cover the nose and mouth and will be required in all indoor environments where residents are exposed to non-household members and a 6-foot social distancing rule cannot be attained.
Hutchinson said if children are going to be required to wear masks to school, then adults must set the right example for them, according to KTHV-TV. "We have to meet the challenge together and everyone must do their part. And this is a way to enlist the support of everyone in this fight," the Republican governor said.
Anyone caught not following the state mandate will face a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a fine of no less than $100 not to exceed $500. KTHV-TV said first-time offenders or anyone under age 18 will get a verbal or written warning.
Arkansas state health officials report more than 29,000 people have become infected with COVID-19 and more than 330 people have died. More than 3.5 million coronavirus cases have been reported in the U.S., according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, while more than 138,000 Americans have died since the pandemic started.
First published on July 16, 2020 / 5:32 PM
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