Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), whose state is seeing skyrocketing cases of COVID-19, on Tuesday made a stunning about-face on his decision to sign a bill that prohibited local mask mandates.
“In hindsight, I wish that had not become law,” he conceded during a press briefing. “But it is the law, and the only chance we have is either to amend it or for the courts to say that it has an unconstitutional foundation.”
In a separate statement on Tuesday, the governor urged Arkansas lawmakers to hold a special session to carve an exemption into the law, passed earlier this year, that would allow school boards to decide whether to implement mask requirements.
Only 37% of the state is fully vaccinated, according to data gathered by the New York Times.
Several other Republican governors besides Hutchinson have banned mask mandates, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who issued an order last week threatening to withhold funding from schools that require students to wear masks.
Florida joins Arkansas as one of the leading hotbeds of the virus.