LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders ended the boards and committees overseeing the Arkansas COVID-19 response with actions taken Friday.

With her ninth executive order since taking office on Jan. 10, Sanders ended five previous orders that had been signed by then-Gov. Asa Hutchinson in 2020. Those orders formed advisory and steering committees, boards and a task force responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement issued after signing the executive order, Sander said COVID-19 was drawing attention from other issues.

“Unfortunately, government has prioritized COVID-19 disproportionally and allowed other health concerns like addiction, cancer screenings, diabetes, and mental health to worsen. As Governor, I will always put the health, safety, and well-being of Arkansans first,” Sanders said. “I promised that when I was elected governor, Arkansas would not have mask mandates or vaccine mandates and we would not shut down churches and schools because we believe in personal freedom and responsibility.”

Sanders supported the decision by citing a statement from Pres. Joe Biden made during a television interview last year when he said, “The pandemic is over.”

The governor cited the length of the COVID-19 response and the need to move onto other health topics.

“The first case of COVID-19 was identified more than three years ago, and it is time for Arkansas—and America—to get back to normal,” a component of the order stated.

A component of the Friday order calls for the Arkansas Department of Health to make its COVID-19 reports and information “readily available.”

The Arkansas Department of Health on Friday reported 991,361 cases in the state since it began tracking the disease. Of those cases, 972,689 have recovered.

The state has reported 403 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours.