LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson defended his decision not to issue a stay-at-home order for the state in a news conference on Thursday.
Hutchinson said that Arkansans are generally acting responsibly when it comes to social distancing and a stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order would only lead to job losses.
"People are making their own decision to stay home, and that's exactly what they should be doing," Hutchinson said.
A stay-at-home or shelter-at-home order would prohibit people from leaving their homes unless they need to leave for essential activities, such as grocery shopping, medical care or going to work. When enacted, the order can result in a fine or imprisonment for violators. A stay-at-home order in Arkansas would close retailers like Dillard's and Hibbett Sports, Hutchinson said.
"We're trying to make good judgement based upon good public health data that is scientifically based and makes sense for Arkansas," Hutchinson said at the news conference. "If we need to do more, we will."
In a recent National Public Radio interview, Hutchinson said he believes that a targeted approach to closures is more effective. Arkansas is one of five states to not have some form of shelter-in-place order in effect. The other states are North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.
"I understand there is a certain amount of political pressure to do what everyone else is doing," Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Dr. Nathan Smith said at the news conference. "What we're trying to accomplish here is not to be like every other state or tick off a box ... what we're trying to do is flatten that curve."
Smith said a stay-at-home order is not sustainable for most Arkansans, or the state's economy.
Arkansas had reported 687 cases of COVID-19, as of Friday morning. Twelve people had died and 66 had been hospitalized.