GOP AR Guv. Now Regrets Signing Ban On Mask Requirements: ‘I Wish That Had Not Become Law’

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 19:  on the second day of the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) delivers a speech on the second day of the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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August 4, 2021 12:15 p.m.

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.

Hutchinson’s backpedaling comes during a massive COVID-19 surge in Arkansas, which also has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

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.

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