Apr 12, 2020 - Health

Arkansas governor: Churches are following social distancing "very carefully"

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that churches that are holding Easter services in his state are following social distancing guidelines "very carefully."

Why it matters: Arkansas has banned indoor gatherings of more than 10 people, but offers exemptions for religious services. The state government, which has come under fire for not issuing a stay-at-home order, recommends that people attending services follow social distancing guidelines.

  • Hutchinson has been trying to discourage people from attending services after nearly three dozen people who gathered at an Arkansas church last month tested positive for the coronavirus, NBC News reports.

What he's saying: "If there's a serious health risk because of a gathering, we'll give a very specific directive and have a discussion with that church," Hutchinson said.

  • "They're just as concerned about their parishioners as I am as governor. And so we're worshipping remotely this Easter. And I expect everybody to make sure they follow those social distancing guidelines and not gather whenever you have a risk."

The big picture: Arkansas has reported 1,228 cases and 27 deaths from the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Asked why he has not issued a stay-at-home order, Hutchinson said that "there's no such thing as a true lockdown" and that the state's "targeted approach" of recommending masks and social distancing has been successful thus far.

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