Arkansas governor allows state’s COVID emergency to end

September 28, 2021 GMT
FILE - In this Tuesday, June 29, 2021 file photo, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson talks about COVID-19 vaccinations at the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. Hutchinson, called a special legislative session in early August 2021, asking lawmakers to carve out an exception for schools in a bill to ban mask mandates. They declined. The law is currently blocked by an Arkansas judge who deemed it unconstitutional. Legal battles are ongoing in other states as well, including Missouri, where a St. Louis County mask mandate is in dispute. (AP Photo/Andrew Demillo)
FILE - In this Tuesday, June 29, 2021 file photo, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson talks about COVID-19 vaccinations at the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. Hutchinson, called a special legislative session in early August 2021, asking lawmakers to carve out an exception for schools in a bill to ban mask mandates. They declined. The law is currently blocked by an Arkansas judge who deemed it unconstitutional. Legal battles are ongoing in other states as well, including Missouri, where a St. Louis County mask mandate is in dispute. (AP Photo/Andrew Demillo)
FILE - In this Tuesday, June 29, 2021 file photo, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson talks about COVID-19 vaccinations at the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. Hutchinson, called a special legislative session in early August 2021, asking lawmakers to carve out an exception for schools in a bill to ban mask mandates. They declined. The law is currently blocked by an Arkansas judge who deemed it unconstitutional. Legal battles are ongoing in other states as well, including Missouri, where a St. Louis County mask mandate is in dispute. (AP Photo/Andrew Demillo)
FILE - In this Tuesday, June 29, 2021 file photo, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson talks about COVID-19 vaccinations at the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. Hutchinson, called a special legislative session in early August 2021, asking lawmakers to carve out an exception for schools in a bill to ban mask mandates. They declined. The law is currently blocked by an Arkansas judge who deemed it unconstitutional. Legal battles are ongoing in other states as well, including Missouri, where a St. Louis County mask mandate is in dispute. (AP Photo/Andrew Demillo)
FILE - In this Tuesday, June 29, 2021 file photo, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson talks about COVID-19 vaccinations at the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. Hutchinson, called a special legislative session in early August 2021, asking lawmakers to carve out an exception for schools in a bill to ban mask mandates. They declined. The law is currently blocked by an Arkansas judge who deemed it unconstitutional. Legal battles are ongoing in other states as well, including Missouri, where a St. Louis County mask mandate is in dispute. (AP Photo/Andrew Demillo)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday said he’d allowed the state’s public health emergency for the coronavirus pandemic to end, saying he didn’t need any additional powers to respond to it.

Hutchinson told reporters he didn’t seek an extension from the Legislature for the emergency, which expired on Monday. But Hutchinson cautioned that the state is still feeling the effects of COVID-19, which the Health Department on Tuesday said had claimed another 21 lives in the state.

“I need to emphasize that we are still in a pandemic. We still have 20 plus people dying every day because of COVID,” Hutchinson said at his weekly news conference. “Just because the technical emergency was not extended does not mean we’re not still in a very serious situation with the pandemic and the actions we need to take.”

Arkansas lifted most of its virus restrictions, including a statewide mask mandate, and ended its emergency declaration last spring. But Hutchinson in July reinstated the emergency as the state saw a surge in cases due to the delta variant of the virus.

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The Health Department said the state’s death toll from COVID-19 now totals 7,651. The state reported its cases rose by 800 to 493,920 total since the pandemic began.

The number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital dropped by 26 to 809. Arkansas ranks 24th in the country for new cases per capita, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

Hutchinson on Tuesday also received a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine, along with First Lady Susan Hutchinson and state Health Secretary Jose Romero.