By Ray King

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday he will hire an attorney to represent his views in the conflict between himself and the state legislature over revising the face mask mandate ban Hutchinson signed into law in April but he now wants to allow schools to implement a mask mandate before classes start.

Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, the Governor said this.

Last Friday, Pulaski County Judge Tim Fox signed an order saying the mandated ban is unconstitutional and prohibiting its implementation pending further court action.

The governor also said the state will be increasing the compensation that medical providers receive when administering COVID-19 vaccinations to Medicaid recipients.

Arkansas’ COVID-19 hospitalizations hit a new high for the second day in a row on Tuesday as a surge in coronavirus cases continued to overwhelm the state’s health system.

The state Department of Health reported its virus hospitalizations rose by 59 to 1,435. A day earlier, the state broke the record it set in January for total COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Arkansas’ latest surge has been brought on by the extra-contagious delta variant and the state’s low vaccination rate.

The state’s coronavirus cases rose by more than 2,600 and COVID-19 deaths increased by 24. There are 507 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units around the state and 295 on ventilators.

The department said there are only 12 ICU beds available in the state.

Arkansas ranks third in the country for new virus cases per capita, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers.