States divided over mask mandates
The Arkansas legislature convened Wednesday for a special session about public health during this phase of the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, signed a law in April forbidding schools and other governmental bodies from mandating face masks. But as cases of the delta variant surge across the country, Hutchinson backtracked and asked the General Assembly to revise the law. “Everything has changed now,” he said “And yes, in hindsight, I wish that had not become law.”
How bad is the surge? New cases of COVID-19 are back up to February levels, about 100,000 per day. That’s an 800 percent increase since late June. Hospitalizations have quadrupled. Deaths have also ticked up, but not nearly at the same rate. COVID-19 fatalities have increased by about 60 percent since early July. Illinois’ Democratic governor, J.B. Pritzker, announced Wednesday that school children will have to wear masks in the classroom. Florida Gov. Ron De Santis, a Republican, has banned schools from requiring masks, saying people should have the freedom to choose. Despite the order, at least two Florida school boards have decided to mandate masks for students and staff.
Dig deeper: Read Steve West’s report in Schooled about lawsuits over mask requirements at the college level.
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