arkansas-expands-virus-vaccinations,-drops-mask-mandate

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – Arkansas will open up coronavirus vaccinations to anyone 16 and older, and is dropping its mask mandate immediately, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday.

Hutchinson announced the moves as the state saw its virus cases and hospitalizations continue to decline. The state had previously made the vaccine available to people 65 and older as well as several other categories, including teachers, health care workers and food service employees.

Hutchinson last month lifted most of the state’s virus restrictions, including restaurant and bar capacity limits, and had said the mask mandate would expire at the end of March if the state met goals for test positivity and hospitalizations.

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Hutchinson is lifting the mask mandate despite President Joe Biden urging states to reinstate or maintain such restrictions to stave off another surge of the virus.

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