WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson visited the White House Wednesday for a meeting with President Trump on the state and federal response to the coronavirus crisis.
The Republican was one of a handful of governors invited to Washington in recent weeks for a one-on-one with the president.
“The message that you have that we need to get back to work, get back to business is critical,” Hutchinson told President Trump.
“You’ve done a great job,” Trump replied.
Hutchinson said his state is having an easier time restarting its economy because he was one of the few governors that did not issue a statewide stay-at-home order.
“There were repercussions from it, but in terms of the economy, it’s all positive,” he said.
About 5,000 Arkansans have tested positive for the virus, and a hundred have died.
“If you look at any measuring stick, Arkansas is in a very good position,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson said he will stay the course, allowing most businesses to resume limited operations. Some never had to stop, including one of the world’s largest meat processors, Tyson Foods, along with other food producers.
“Sure, we might have a positive case that pops up,” Hutchinson said. “We’re going to take care of that person, isolate and then get back to business. That’s what we have to do for our country.”
Hutchinson thanked President Trump for the additional $600 in federal weekly benefits for the 100,000 newly-unemployed Arkansans.
The president has discussed suspending the unemployment benefits, but Hutchinson said Arkansans need that money.
“Hopefully this will be short-lived, but that unemployment compensation is critically important,” Hutchinson said. “I will tell the president that the extra $600 in benefits the federal government gave is critically important in terms of encouraging confidence in spending and building our businesses back.”
Hutchinson also asked the President to support an extension for small businesses to pay back federal loans under the Paycheck Protection Program.
While Congress debates that and an extension of the $600 per week in unemployment benefits, Hutchinson plans to push his state to get back to work and school.