Gov. Asa Hutchinson defended his decision not to issue a shelter-in-place order across the state during his daily coronavirus update on Thursday.

The Arkansas governor said he’s heard a lot of discussion on the issue and explained his reasoning behind the choice.

First, he pointed everyone toward the projected model the state has been using to predict COVID-19 numbers.

Hutchinson said they initially expected cases to rise to 3,500 by mid-April and even at the 625 – by press time Thursday the Arkansas Department of Health issued a new number of 643 – confirmed COVID-19 numbers, Arkansas is current at as of Thursday, we’re still more than 400 less than the projection called for.

“The strategy of a targeted response to this emergency virus situation in Arkansas is proven to be successful in bending the curve, lowering the apex of the curve and reducing the number of cases and hospitalizations in Arkansas,” he said.

Hutchinson has received criticism recently after national news outlets began showing a map of states that have and haven’t issued stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, which he said depicts Arkansas as being ineffective but in truth, just gives people an unrealistic expectation of what the order actually means.

Arkansas is one of five states – North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa – to not have some form of stay-at-home order in place.

He said ones like the state of California issued, are in essence, an illusion of a true one – which means no one goes out – but what people don’t realize is every morning, millions of workers in California get up and go to work because the state’s order exemplifies essential activities like grocery markets, banks, laundry mats and other places of business and allows outdoor engagements, similar to what Arkansas is already doing.

Hutchinson said every day they measure if the aggressive, targeted response measures Arkansas has implemented – social distancing, the closing of schools, restaurants, parks, movie theaters and more and encouraging people to work from home – are sufficient enough and if more need to be taken.

“Those are just a few of the measures that we’ve taken which actually exceed some of the measures in other states,” he said. “The result of these targeted measures and the strategy that we’ve implemented have given us some good results.

“We’re trying to make good judgments based upon good public health data that is scientifically based and that makes sense in Arkansas. Let me assure you, if we need to do more, we will.”

Staff writer Hilary Andrews can be reached at handrews@thecabin.net

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