EMERGENCY DECLARATION - Arkansas has reported 42 new COVID-19 deaths and its biggest one-day spike in hospitalizations since the pandemic began. The Department of Health on Monday reported 81 new COVID-19 hospitalizations, bringing the state's total to 1,220. The department said 451 of those patients are under intensive care and 250 are on ventilators. The state's coronavirus hospitalizations are nearing the high set last January. Gov. Asa Hutchinson HAS DECLARED a state emergency AND has called for Lawmakers to return to the Capitol this week for a special session to take up his emergency proposal amend a recently passed law that prohibited local school boards and other government agencies from enacting mask mandates. Hutchinson says the session is to focus only on the face mask ban in K-12 schools .
"This is not about a debate about mask mandates or those who can make their own decisions and have means to get vaccinated," Hutchinson explained. "This is a discussion about the school environment where schools can make decisions to add to the public health for their own school environment and for the children that they have a responsibility to protect."
Hutchinson has invited Federal Covid Crisis Surge Teams to come to Arkansas to assist with evaluating hospital capacities as more patients fill beds and ICUs.