LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Governor Asa Hutchinson said on Friday that the statewide mask mandate could end on March 31 if Arkansas meets certain statistical criteria.
During a public address to the state on Friday, Hutchinson said the mask mandate renewal criteria will be as follows:
- A value below 10% combined PCR and antigen positivity rate (7-day rolling average) with at least 7500 specimens tested on average daily would be actionable
- If testing is below 7500 average specimens daily, then the number of hospitalized patients would serve as the indicator for action. Fewer than 750 patients hospitalized state-wide for COVID-19 would be the trigger.
*Note: Hutchinson clarified that there is a typo in the following graphic. It should read: “A value BELOW 10% combined PCR and antigen positivity rate”
“If we meet these benchmarks, then the mask mandate will be lifted on March 31,” he said.
The directive would then become a guideline, Hutchinson said.
“Our change today is based on the fact that we’ve shown significant progress with regard to number of cases and number of hospitalizations,” said Dr. Jose Romero, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health.
Romero said that this move should not change the behavior of the citizens of Arkansas.
“We will still need to wear our masks, maintain social distancing, wash our hands, those are going to be essential in keeping this pandemic that is affecting our state under control,” said Romero.
Despite the Governor’s announcement, there won’t be any changes for businesses like the Walmart AMP just yet.
Jennifer Wilson with the AMP and the Walton Arts Center said, “We believe it is in our best interest to continue protecting our staff and patrons to the greatest extent possible with our existing procedures until vaccines are more fully rolled out.”