Ark. government leaders speak on increased COVID cases, mask mandates

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 2:47 PM CDT
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TEXARKANA, Ark. (KSLA) - Work continues in the Texarkana Arkansas school district in preparation for the upcoming school year, but with the uptick in positive COVID-19 cases, some in the state are hoping the state legislature get back to work to make it safer for students and staff to return.

Senator Trent Garner of Eldorado is the author of Senate Bill 590 which does away with mandatory face coverings in public schools and other government organizations in Arkansas.

“People should be able to make their own individual health choices. They shouldn’t be forced by a big government mandate against their will to wear a mask,” said Garner.

Even with some democratic legislatures wanting to revisit this issue, Garner, a republican, says he doesn’t see that happening.

“I think I’ve heard from plenty of parents that don’t want their kids to be forced to wear a mask. The reality is if you want to send your child to school with a mask, you can do that. If you want them to get vaccinated, if they are 12 or older, or if you want to do remote learning, it’s all a choice of that parent,” said Garner.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson contributes the increase in cases to the delta variant and low vaccination rate. Although he says it should be a personal choice, Senator Garner said he would like to see vaccinations increase.

“People choose to get vaccinated, they should right now. We have a relative low vaccination rate. We have personal choice, it’s their decision. I look at the science, personally I think they are safe. There are few cases of very rare and serious side effects but once again that’s your choice,” said Garner.

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