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Gov. Hutchinson says wearing masks to prevent COVID-19 'shouldn't be about politics'

Governor Asa Hutchinson said Sunday that wearing masks to help stop the spread of the coronavirus shouldn’t be about politics.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Governor Asa Hutchinson said Sunday that wearing masks to help stop the spread of the coronavirus shouldn’t be about politics.

When asked during an interview on ABC’s “This Week” about whether President Donald Trump was sending out mixed messages on wearing masks, Hutchinson said, “that example needs to be set by our national leadership.” 

Trump didn’t wear a mask in public until a visit to a military hospital on July 11. 

“I’m a Republican governor. Democrat governors have all -- we’ve put in mask mandates based upon the circumstances of our state,” Hutchinson said. 

RELATED: Coronavirus updates: 695 new cases in Arkansas, 8 more patients on ventilator

“It’s not popular. It’s not something we want to do. It’s not the first lever we pull. But it is one that, when the data says it’s necessary, we do it.”

Hutchinson last week signed an order requiring masks in public when social distancing isn’t possible. The order takes effect Monday. 

Violators face a fine of up to $500 but can’t be arrested or detained. 

Hutchinson had previously resisted issuing such a statewide mandate. 

The governor called his state’s mask mandate the right approach to take.

“No one wants to beat this virus more than the people of Arkansas. And so we’re asking them to- this is one thing they can do to help us to have school, to help us to keep our economy moving, and we’re asking them to do it. And we’re putting out the mandate to accomplish that,” Hutchinson said. 

RELATED: Some Arkansas law enforcement agencies opposing mask mandate

He told ABC’s “This Week” that he doesn’t support a national mask mandate. 

“I think the states are addressing this,” he said. 

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. 

But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.