Health officer on governor mask mandate lifting: ‘It’s really a slap in the face’

Health officer on governor mask mandate lifting: ‘It’s really a slap in the face’
With the mask mandate expected to be lifted on March 31, Dr. Valencia Andrews-Pirtle is concerned about the possible outcome. (Source: KAIT 8)

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Governor Asa Hutchinson is expected to lift the statewide mask mandate on March 31, which brings concerns to health officials.

Dr. Valencia Andrews-Pirtle – a Mississippi County Health Officer—feels that it is a mockery of all the hard work healthcare workers have done on the pandemic’s frontlines.

“It’s really a slap in the face,” said Dr. Andrews-Pirtle.

She mentioned that there are not enough immunized people to allow a return to normalcy.

“We’re not quite sure when it’s going to be safe, but if you’re not going to get a vaccine, you’re really not safe,” said the health officer.

Active cases, hospitalizations, and testing have gone down significantly, but Dr. Andrews-Pirtle says that there is no telling if people are spreading the virus.

“You can easily see a surge in cases with those changes in behavior,” she said.

Dr. Andrews-Pirtle suggests that the state considers waiting for two more months, so more people are vaccinated, to consider lifting the mandate.

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