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COVID-19 update: Hot Springs Board of Directors repeals mask ordinance

June 3, 2021 at 4:05 a.m.
This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). - Image by CDC via The Associated Press

As a service to our readers, The Sentinel-Record publishes updates released by the city of Hot Springs and the state of Arkansas.

The following stats were posted Wednesday on the Arkansas Department of Health's website:

• 266,856 cumulative confirmed cases, up 130 from Tuesday.

• 90.57 rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases, up 2.57 from Tuesday.

• 3,058,563 PCR test reports, up 2,472 from Tuesday.

• 8.7% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Tuesday.

• 74,836 cumulative probable cases, up 112 from Tuesday.

• 14.5% cumulative antigen infection rate, no change from Tuesday.

• 334,139 recoveries of confirmed and probable cases, up 177 from Tuesday.

• 1,658 active confirmed and probable cases, up 62 from Tuesday.

• 2,643,720 vaccine doses received, up 21,710 from Tuesday.

• 1,986,807 doses given, up 5,817 from Tuesday.

• 190 hospitalizations, down 11 from Tuesday.

• 37 cases on a ventilator, down one from Tuesday.

• 83 ICU patients, down five from Tuesday.

• 4,628 confirmed deaths, no change from Tuesday.

• 1,207 probable deaths, up one from Tuesday.

• 2,092 nursing home deaths, up one from Tuesday.

• 8,676 cumulative confirmed cases in Garland County, up six from Tuesday.

• 3.43 rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases, up 0.57 from Tuesday.

• 118,383 PCR and antigen test reports, up 94 from Tuesday.

• 90,235 private lab reports, up 91 from Tuesday.

• 28,148 public lab reports, up three from Tuesday.

• 8.5% cumulative PCR infection rate, no change from Tuesday.

• 42 active confirmed cases in Garland County, down four from Tuesday.

• 8,422 recoveries of confirmed cases in Garland County, up 10 from Tuesday.

• 1,659 cumulative probable cases in Garland County, up one from Tuesday.

• 23 active probable cases in Garland County, down three from Tuesday.

• 212 confirmed deaths, no change from Tuesday.

• 49 probable deaths, no change from Tuesday.

The Hot Springs Board of Directors repealed the mask ordinance it adopted in July, voting Tuesday night to rescind the local regulation requiring the use of face coverings in accordance with public health guidelines.

The ordinance was drafted by the Arkansas Municipal League at Gov. Asa Hutchinson's request. It's the template the state provided cities to promote the use of face coverings in their jurisdictions. The city said last year that the ordinance didn't mandate that masks be worn inside the city limits.

"The wearing of face masks remains a personal choice," the city said in a question-and-answer format it issued last year to explain the practical implications of the ordinance. "However, access to certain businesses will be restricted for those who choose not to wear a face covering, based on (Arkansas Department of Health) directives and each individual establishment's mandates."

City Manager Bill Burrough asked the board to repeal the ordinance, which was in conflict with updated public health guidance.

"The Arkansas Department of Health recently released updated guidance regarding the use of face masks/coverings and social distancing by the general public consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that no longer recommends that the general public wear face coverings in all indoor environments," the request for board action said. "It is recommended that the Board of Directors consider repealing Ordinance No. 6338 in order to maintain consistency with the guidance from the CDC and ADH."

Mayor Pat McCabe urged the public to continue exercising caution.

"COVID is still out there and very real," he said at Tuesday night's board meeting. "We do add new cases, not only throughout the state, but here in our own community on a fairly regular basis. While we relaxed our requirements, you still must be judicious and very wise and aware of your surroundings and the fact that it's still there. It's really not that far from any of us. If you haven't gotten your vaccinations yet, I would encourage you to do so and be cautious."

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