Legislators file lawsuit to overturn Covid-19 mandates

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Suzie Bell, who is running for the Arkansas House of Representatives, District 97, called it “insane” that just as the governor has enacted mask mandates and other Covid-19 safety directives, a group of Republican lawmakers has filed a lawsuit challenging the governor’s authority to make Covid-19 mandates unilaterally without the legislature being involved.

Rep. Harlan Breaux (R), the incumbent state representative, said that at first, he held off and didn’t want to join the lawsuit.

“But so many of my constituents were calling me and asking me to take a stand against the health department and the governor,” Breaux said. “I thought, ‘After all, I don’t need to please the governor. I need to please my constituents.’ Everyone in my district was calling me and wanting me to sign it. So, I finally did.”

He supports the mandates, just not the way they were done.

“I think we’re doing the right thing,” said Breaux. “The only thing I would change on that is if anything were done the people would have more say and the legislators, as well. What happened here is the governor pretty much did that on his own.”

Breaux said he wears a mask to protect other people.

“When you are outside and doing social distancing, I’m still for that,” Breaux said. “But as far as shutting down the whole state and the economy, it is time to open this up a little bit. I want to be safe more than have a great economy, but it is time we do something with this.”

Breaux was concerned about the crowds he saw in downtown Eureka Springs Labor Day weekend.

“People should stay away from crowds that are close together like that,” Breaux said. “We had so many people downtown. It was a snail’s pace to get through the traffic. But I saw quite a few people with masks there.”

Bell said she was aghast at what she saw this past weekend.

“I was shocked there were so many who were so close together, and while I know there are family groups that can walk together without a mask, it was very obviously not that situation,” Bell said. “It made me want to roll my window down and say to people wearing masks: ‘Thank you for doing the right thing!’ But it was disturbing the number of people not doing the right thing. We want our economy back. We are desperate for this. But we can’t do it if we are not committed fully to taking care of this health issue first.”

Bell said recent medical studies have shown that wearing masks reduces the spread of Covid-19 by 40 percent.

“I support the governor in keeping the mask mandate, and if we would all just buck up and do the right thing we could end this thing quickly,” Bell said. “I’m just surprised there are so many people who do not think it is their moral and social responsibility to take care of their fellow human beings.”

As of Sept. 7, Carroll County had 501 Covid-19 positive cases with 442 listed as recovered and eight deaths. Two of those were workers at the Tyson chicken processing plant in Berryville. As of Sept. 3, Carroll County had six active cases in the poultry industry and 114 cases considered recovered. Local health workers have reported many Covid-19 cases in families of poultry workers, but family members are not counted in the ADH occupation cluster reports.

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