By Robert Stewart
When Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the end of the statewide mask mandate last week, some cities, such as Little Rock and Fayetteville, were quick to extend their own mask requirements at the local level. By contrast, Jonesboro opted for a hybrid approach.
Jonesboro Mayor Harold Copenhaver said the city government safety measures on masks would not change. Wearing a face covering and practicing social distancing will still be required in city offices “to care for the health of City employees and be responsible to our community,” Copenhaver said in a statement. Yet businesses in Jonesboro are free to make their own decisions about mask requirements.
As of April 4, Craighead County had the second-highest seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in Northeast Arkansas with 6.14. That number is about six times smaller than it was Feb. 1, but it still nearly triples the statewide average of 2.14 and the regional average of 1.96. While new cases remain relatively high in Craighead County, so does the vaccination rate. It lingers about half a percent behind the statewide 17.3%, but leads 14 other counties in Northeast Arkansas, trailing only Woodruff, Clay and Cross as of April 2.