'We need to look at a greater use of Defense Production Act' for testing: Hutchinson

George Stephanopoulos interviews Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on "This Week."
8:28 | 06/28/20

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Transcript for 'We need to look at a greater use of Defense Production Act' for testing: Hutchinson
We're announcing today a joint travel advisory, people coming in from states that have a high infection rate must quarantine for 14 days. It's only for the simple reason that we worked very hard to get the viral transmission rate down, we don't want to see it go up. Of course I understand where governor Cuomo is coming from, but whenever you're looking at growing our economy, trying to restore our economy, this is not particularly helpful to that. New York's Andrew Cuomo going head to head with Arkansas' Asa Hutchinson after the governor Cuomo announced a quarantine. Governor Hutchinson joins us this morning. Governor, thank you for joining us this morning. Was governor Cuomo justified or not? Well, I think he's understandable as to where he's coming from, they've had such a huge challenge there in New York City. We sent our nurses up there to help them during that time of crisis. I understand where they're coming from. In fact, we had had the same order in Arkansas that travelers from New York had to quarantine. We've lifted all of those now because this virus has become like a fog going across the United States -- sometimes slowly, sometimes rapidly -- so we're just going to do better to get our cases down in Arkansas, but ultimately we can't be putting these restrictions on each other across the country because we do have to do two things -- both manage the virus and manage the growth of our economy, and ultimately, whenever you see growth of cases from Texas to California, I don't think New York wants to isolate themselves from every region of commerce that might have a spike in cases. Both Texas and California have put their reopening plans on pause, at least some of them, as well as the state of Florida, your cases have jumped about 25% in the last week, will you be putting any pauses in place on your reopening? Well, we haven't announced anything additional we're going to do, we can go into phase three, we're not going to do that, so we are on pause on that, to make sure we get a handle on our current cases, and so we are in effect on pause in that way, but we are continuing to move our economy and that's important to be able to go into the future both handling the virus and living life. And that's what we're trying to do. But this is a very, very serious challenge we have right now. Just let me emphasized, we doubled the amount of our testing nationally we've got to double it again. That's probably the most important thing we can do and I'm concerned as a state, we increased our testing dramatically in Arkansas, with demand for testing from California and Texas and high-population states, how are our commercial providers going to keep up with that? I really think that we need to look at a greater use of the defense production act so that we can make sure the supply keeps up with the demand that we know is going to continue growing. So you think the national effort has to be stepped up? The president's done very, very good job of utilizing the defense production act when it comes to managing the production of ventilators, making sure that we have that capacity. We need to continue to use that in the areas of the supplies for testing. The demand is only going to increase and if we're going to have school, which we plan on doing next year, if we're going to have other activities that we like in society, it all depends on the ability to test and know what the radar shows, where the virus is, so we can go in and isolate it, trace it down, that's how you live life, that's how you manage the economy, but at the same time, minimize the risk of the virus. It's now mandatory to wear face masks in the city of little Rock, the mayor passed the executive order, why not extend that to the whole state? Well, we're encouraging mask wearing. I've set the example for that. That's a very important part of the equation. As well as social distancing. We're not going to pass a mandate that's unenforceable. So as we educate the population, we'll continue that effort because it is an important part of the equation. I've got a good relationship with the mayors, we're all trying to accomplish the same thing, which is encouraging the use of masks that helps protects others. A very unselfish act. Should the president and vice president be doing more to set an example on the wearing of masks? Well, I saw the vice president as he went into the briefing the other day he had a mask as others did, I think that's a good example. It is important that there's a consistent national message to take this seriously, that we are going to wear masks, that we are going to set that example, that consistent national message supplements what we're trying to do in the state and is important to -- you can have two messages at the same time. Your message is grow our economy but also have the message of social distancing, protecting our self and others for the virus. On another subject, Mississippi is set to remove from the confederate symbol from the state flag. Governor Tate reeves is set to sign the bill. Is it time for the con federal monuments in state of Arkansas to come down? We already moved one in bentonville, my hometown, there was a confederate statue in the square, there was an agreement reached to move that statue to an area in a cemetery, away from the public square, that's the right process to go through. It's not the right process to destroy by acts of violence or vandalism, it is right to have the debate and to take action. So, yes, I think there's more that we need to look at in Arkansas and I thought Mississippi, they did it in a thoughtful way, they set the process up and I applaud them for their debate and the decisionmaking that they did. That will continue across the country and it's the right thing to do. But your personal opinion is that they should come down? Well, you have -- which one are you talking about? Whenever you're looking at those in municipalities, we have one in hot springs, that's a local decision. Whenever you look at the ones that relates to the state, we do have one that's on our state capitol grounds, that's a decision of general assembly. What do I think about it? I think it's time to look for other places that we can know that history and remind ourselves of the lessons of that history. Finally sir, I wanted to talk about the 2020 race coming up, president trump, you've seen the national polls, he won Arkansas by 27 points. Last time. One poll this week showed him two points up. If it's close in Arkansas that's real sign of trouble for the president, what should he do to fix it? Well, he's going to do fine in Arkansas, he'll carry Arkansas, and you just got to look at president trump and the fact that he's been down in the polls, nobody thought he was going to win the last election, he surged in the final days, he won some of the key battleground states. People who are writing his obituary is a little bit early on that and I think the key is the economy and of course managing this virus and, you know, whenever he was doing -- when he was engaged in it, doing his national briefings, people were responding to it, even though he made some missteps in it. He has to be engaged both in moving the economy forward but also making sure that we're going in the right direction and doing all we can to support the states in terms of the virus. Governor Hutchinson, thanks for your time this morning.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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