Breaking news in Arkansas this afternoon it's being reported that Governor Asa Hutchinson has lifted the COVID mask mandate.

The lifted mask mandate is effective immediately, of course, this comes after a vote to extend the COVID-19 emergency declaration. The mask mandate was put in place last July when hospitalizations and rising COVID cases were spiking in the state. However,  businesses can still require their customers to wear a mask. The federal mask mandate will still be enforced in federal buildings and when traveling and Arkansas public schools can still enforce mask mandates in their districts. Arkansas school districts are requested to post a general public plan for safety guidelines for in-person learning and services.

The statewide mask mandate has been lifted due to a lower number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to trend downward. Governor Hutchison also announced that COVID-19 vaccines will now be available immediately for any Arkansas resident 16 or older. Arkansas is expected to receive 25,000 doses this week, according to a press release.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.

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