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Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Photo: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday he regrets signing a bill into law that banned local mask mandates in the state.

State of play: Hutchinson has called on the state legislature to amend the law to let school districts decide whether to require face coverings when they return to in-person learning this fall.

What he's saying: "There is no state wide mask mandate. I'm not in favor of a statewide mask mandate," Hutchinson said at a news conference. "There are no government vaccine mandates as well, but we do have a vulnerable group that is not eligible for the vaccine."

  • "The local school districts should make the call and they should have more options to make sure that their school is a safe environment during a very challenging time for education."

Catch up fast: Hutchinson signed the bill as COVID-19 cases were declining in March.

  • "In hindsight, I wish that it had not become law," he said Tuesday.

What to watch: The Arkansas state legislature will begin a special session on Wednesday at 10 a.m. local time to look into the face coverings ban.

By the numbers: Arkansas has seen a 517% increase in new cases among people under age 18 between April and July, said Jose Remero, the state's health secretary, at the news conference. That number is 690% for children 12 and under.

  • Hospitalizations among people under 18 have increased nearly 270% in that time.

Go deeper

Oct 19, 2021 - Health

Supreme Court declines to block Maine health care workers vaccine mandate

A Maine health care worker prepares vaccine dose. Photo: Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear an emergency appeal of a vaccine mandate for Maine health care workers.

The big picture: The mandate, which was announced in August by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, says that Maine health care workers need to be vaccinated by Oct. 29 or risk losing their jobs and not qualifying for unemployment benefits.

GE to mandate COVID vaccinations for U.S. workers

Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP via Getty Images

General Electric will require all of its workers in the U.S. to be vaccinated against COVID-19, citing President Biden's executive order for federal contractors, the company confirmed to Axios on Tuesday.

Why it matters: General Electric is the latest in a slew of major companies to mandate the vaccine for workers, following in the footsteps of American Airlines, Tyson Foods and Microsoft, among others.

Oct 19, 2021 - Health

J&J expects $2.5 billion of vaccine sales this year

J&J's COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson registered $502 million of global revenue from its COVID-19 vaccine in the third quarter, bringing year-to-date vaccine sales to $766 million.

The big picture: J&J, which is selling the vaccine at a not-for-profit price of $7.50 per dose, still expects to generate $2.5 billion of COVID vaccine sales this year, executives said Tuesday. But that total will still dwarf the use and sales of the vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.