LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Sunday that he will encourage people to wear face masks in public to slow the spread of the coronavirus but indicated he doesn't plan to enact a statewide requirement.
"We're not going to pass a mandate that is unenforceable," Hutchinson said on CNN's "State of the Union," while adding residents will be educated about the importance of face coverings to protect others.
"We're encouraging mask wearing. I've set the example for that," said Hutchinson, who has previously worn a mask in public.
His comments came as Arkansas has seen an uptick in the number of confirmed cases of the virus that causes COVID-19. The cities of Little Rock and Fayetteville have imposed mandates that face masks be worn in most public settings.
Hutchinson also said there are no plans to roll back the state's reopening that began in May, although he will not currently further ease restrictions.
The state health department said Sunday that there are at least 19,818 confirmed cases of the virus and 264 deaths, an increase of 508 cases and five deaths reported Saturday.
The true number of cases is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.