Doing today’s COVID-19 update, Governor Hutchinson stated that an executive order has been signed of a model ordinance (drafted by the Arkansas Municipal League) for each city within the state of Arkansas to have the authority of adopting the model ordinance and mandate the use of masks in a public place. Gov. Hutchinson shared the two key factors in the hesitation of having an overall state mandate was the lack of public education of the benefits of wearing a mask, though through the survey, Gov. Hutchinson recognizes the increased awareness of the benefits , and having a consistent approach by all cities.
A recent survey has shown that there is an 82 percent public acceptance of the wearing of a mask, 16 percent who did not wear a mask and then two percent didn’t know or did not remember.
John Wilkerson, general council of the Municipal League, spoke about the ordinance. “We agree that consistency is incredibly important which is why this ordinance says the city will require the usage of masks in accordance with guidelines of the Department of Health. We all know it is extremely important to mask up, the ordinance emphasizes that importance, and by not wearing a mask you pose a direct threat to your community. Along the lines of the education, the ordinance states the City will use law enforcement to educate and encourage the usage of masks, which has been considered the most reasonable and appropriate way to continue to encourage and educate. Finally, the ordinance is geared toward supporting local businesses who as we have seen had challenges in the requirement of wearing masks. We want to make sure law enforcement is available to assist these local businesses who need or find the need to enforce the wearing of a mask.”
The executive order was announced following Arkansas’ highest single day increase with 878 new cases which was more than twice the number of the previous day.
When asked if the City of Mena would adopt the ordinance, Mayor Seth Smith replied, “Not yet.”
There were 547 new cases today, 365 in the community, 182 in the prisons), 22,622 cumulative and 6,177 active cases (5,350 in the community, 671 in prisons and 156 in nursing homes).
There are currently 285 hospitalized, 70 on ventilators and two additional deaths totaling 281 Arkansans who have lost their lives to the virus.
Currently there have been 75 positive COVID-19 cases in Polk County, nine are active and zero deaths according to the Arkansas Department of Health website. The previous death reported has been removed from the ADH website.
Dr. Nate Smith emphasized the importance of social distancing during the July 4 holiday and the need for use of masks.