Arkansas governor resists calls for statewide stay-at-home order

Arkansas governor resists calls for statewide stay-at-home order

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Each state is taking its own approach to combat the spread of COVID-19, but critics say some states like Arkansas should be doing more.

Most governors have issued statewide orders, directing residents to stay home to slow the spread of the virus.

In the Mid-South, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee issued a stay-at-home order while Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves went a step further and issued a shelter-in-place order.

Both types of orders temporarily restrict freedoms, directing people to stay in their homes unless they’re doing an essential activity like grocery shopping or visiting the doctor.

Health experts, including the nation's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, say such orders ensure every community is on the same page as the virus spreads.

But Arkansas and a handful of other states, all of whom have Republican governors, have no such orders in place.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said residents are making their own decisions to stay at home without a state order.

He defended his handling of the crisis on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"Whenever you look at our state, I think Dr. Fauci would be very pleased with the fact that we are beating some of our other states reducing the spread and the commitment we have to working every day to accomplish that,” said Hutchinson.

Instead of a statewide order, Hutchinson believes a “targeted approach” is better.

“In Arkansas, we have a targeted approach that is very strict,” Hutchinson said. “We’ve closed bars, restaurants, schools, some of our park lodges. We’re emphasizing the social distancing and we will do more as we need to.”

On Saturday, Hutchinson banned most out-of-state travelers from checking into Arkansas motels and hotels.

He says Arkansas is following CDC guidelines and he is recommending citizens wear masks in public.

WMC Political Analyst Michael Nelson says it's no surprise the handful of governors who refuse to issue statewide stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders are all Republicans.

"Republicans generally don't like using the power of government any more than they absolutely have to, and Democrats are more willing to do that,” said Nelson.

But Nelson says it may reach a point where Hutchinson has no choice.

"To me, it's just a matter of time until he imposes this order and that's true of the other six governors around the country who haven't done it yet,” Nelson said. “Question is why, why wait? Why not do it now rather than later when you're going to have to do it anyway?”

President Trump has resisted calls for a nationwide stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order, saying such orders should be left up to the states.

Copyright 2020 WMC. All rights reserved.