The number of active cases of COVID has surged over 12,770 in Arkansas, and two children were reported to have died.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the former Trump White House press secretary and Fox News pundit who is running for governor of Arkansas, said during a Friday appearance on Fox News that she would not institute mask or vaccine mandates if elected.
Sanders' comments come as Arkansas has had a resurgence of COVID-19. On Thursday, the Arkansas Department of Health reported that active cases of COVID-19 in the state had increased by more than 800, up to 12,779.
The department reported the death of two children from COVID-19 on the day Sanders said she wouldn't impose any safety regulations against the spread of the coronavirus.
"If I'm elected governor here in Arkansas, we will not have mask mandates, we will not have mandates on the vaccine ... because we believe in personal freedom and responsibility. That's one of the key cornerstones, frankly, of our country," Sanders told the hosts of "Fox & Friends."
According to the Mayo Clinic, 44.4% of the total population in Arkansas has had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, ranking it among the bottom 10 states in the country. By comparison, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Vermont have vaccination rates above 70%, and the national average is 56.6%.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control, told a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education and Labor on Wednesday that 83% of new COVID cases are caused by the Delta variant of the virus, and that most of those infected are unvaccinated.
In contrast to Sanders' blanket statement, some institutions in Arkansas have instituted vaccine mandates. Arkansas Children's Hospital and the state's Washington Regional Medical Network said that all new hires would be required to be vaccinated.
In the interview, Sanders also said that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris had "cast doubt" on the Operation Warp Speed program that was intended to help fund and accelerate the development of vaccines against the coronavirus and should "give President Trump and his administration the credit they are due" for the vaccine being developed and distributed.
But when Biden became president on Jan. 20, the government had not yet secured millions of doses of vaccine from manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna, and agreements were not secured until the Biden administration was in place. The agreement for a total of 600 million doses to cover the entire population was not reached until Feb. 11.
During her tenure as Donald Trump's spokesperson, Sanders made a habit of repeatedly lying to reporters.
Defending Trump's decision to fire then-FBI director James Comey in 2017, Sanders claimed that FBI agents had "lost confidence" in the director. But under oath during the Mueller investigation, she admitted fabricating the story.
She also lied about job creation figures under President Barack Obama, which she was forced later to acknowledge.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.