The city of Little Rock announced last night an action deserving of praise:
At the Board of Directors meeting Tuesday, Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. and the Little Rock Board of Directors extended the disaster emergency due to COVID-19. The emergency will continue for four months, through August 31. Although the emergency is extended, Mayor Scott will assess the need for a continuation of the emergency every 30 days during this period. The emergency declaration also allows the Mayor to extend the City’s face covering requirement, which was also announced at the meeting. Mayor Scott will review the mask requirement every 30 days.
“I’m grateful to the Board for understanding the need to make those decisions that protect the lives of residents and visitors to our city,” Mayor Scott said. “While vaccinations have helped to dramatically lower the number of new cases, there is still a need for some actions during the next few months as we monitor new infections caused by the original strain or by any the more recently identified strains of COVID-19.”
Congratulations to the mayor. It’s too bad the Arkansas legislature is so wrong-headed, as illustrated by action earlier yesterday.
As I reported yesterday, the Arkansas House approved legislation to end all mask mandates by any unit of government, state or local, except for some detention exceptions. The bill must go back to the Senate from which it originated, though passage seems likely given that the House watered it down slightly by allowing private businesses to impose a mask mandate on their private premises.
I asked Stephanie Jackson, a spokesman for the mayor, about the state development. She responded:
The Mayor and the Board of Directors will continue to utilize the available powers vested in these offices to work in the best interest of Little Rock residents and follow the guidance of medical professionals.
Guided by medical professionals. Imagine how nice that would be at the legislature, which has ignored medical professionals, science and scholarly research this session in punishing transgender children and women and enforcing their tribalism on vaccinations, masks, plastic barriers, education, you name it.
Thanks for trying, mayor.
And thanks to school districts, such as Little Rock, that have tried to do the right thing as well.
Governor Hutchinson has indicated some misgivings about state pre-emption of local mask mandates. Would he defy his tribe by vetoing this bill should it reach his desk? Would a majority swiftly override a veto? If the past is prologue, the outlook isn’t bright.
PS: The comments on the city of Little Rock’s notice of the declaration are about as bad as you might expect from a state resistant to getting shots, much less wearing a mask.