MASKUPAZ

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona mayors are free to make wearing face masks to slow the spread of coronavirus a mandatory requirement, Gov. Doug Ducey said.

The Republican governor, who entered a news conference wearing a black face mask but took it off to speak, said giving cities the discretion to decide would work better than a statewide mandate. He also cited the vastly different rates of positive COVID-19 cases across counties.

“For some things, a statewide directive or executive order works very well,” Ducey said. “If you have 12 or 13 counties that say ‘pound sand’ on an executive order ... it’s a self-defeating executive order.”

The announcement comes after days of mounting pressure for Ducey to take action in the wake of the state’s alarming rise in cases. Hundreds of Arizona medical professionals signed a letter calling on him to take steps like requiring face masks in public to slow a major increase that has made the state a national hot spot. The state’s biggest newspaper, The Arizona Republic, is calling for action.

The state’s top Democratic politicians are on board, with U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and mayors pushing for tougher action.

Ducey had previously resisted any kind of mandate. Since he allowed the state’s stay-at-home and most business-

closure orders to expire in mid-May, the second-term governor has taken no new steps to rein in activities like bar scenes and the lack of mask-wearing by many people in stores, restaurants and other public spaces.

The rising numbers may have forced his hand. Arizona hospitals were treating a record number of coronavirus patients Tuesday amid a surge of new cases. The state’s Health Services Department reported a record number of emergency room visits for the virus as well.

The health agency confirmed 1,827 new cases and 20 new deaths Wednesday. That brings the total confirmed cases to 40,924 and deaths to 1,239.

Hospitals were treating 1,582 patients on Tuesday, an increase of more than 500 from two weeks earlier. Emergency room visits for patients with virus symptoms soared to nearly 1,100. On June 3, hospitals reported seeing 638 patients in emergency rooms.

Statewide Tuesday, hospitals were at 85% of capacity. That’s well above the 80% rate where Ducey said they would have to halt elective surgeries to preserve space.

Ducey said last week he would enforce that order, but Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said the department hadn’t yet required a halt as officials review the capacity reports.

More than 700 health providers sent Ducey the letter earlier this week urging him to require that people wear masks in public spaces.

Among them was Dr. Natasha Bhuyan of Phoenix. The family medicine doctor said marketing campaigns and tweets from the governor’s office urging the use of masks aren’t going to cut it.

“We’ve been educating the public this entire time, and clearly it hasn’t been effective,” Bhuyan said. “The accurate scientific information is just not reaching people. It’s a public health tenet: When you make things mandatory, you see results.”

She said if immediate action isn’t taken, Arizona could see hospital ICUs and ventilators reach capacity as early as July.

Ducey has suggested the use of masks, but he so far has declined to issue a mandate. He posted messages on Twitter and Facebook urging the use of masks. The messages said “Protect yourself. Protect others. Help contain the spread of #COVID19. Wear a mask. #MaskUpAZ.”

During a news briefing last week where he pushed back on questions about a mask mandate, the governor insisted that the state’s hospitals, while filling up, had the capacity to treat any expected surge in virus patients.

Those comments drew a rebuke from Sinema in an interview with KTAR on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it makes sense to design your policy based on whether or not there are enough hospital beds for people to die in,” Sinema said on the “Gaydos and Chad Show.” “I think we should be designing our policy about how do we reduce the spread, so fewer people are dying, fewer people are in the hospitals and fewer people are contracting the virus. That should be our focus. And we can do that while also safely reopening our businesses and our economy.”

 

(12) comments

Desert Bat

Every mask immediately reduces your oxygen level below the 19% threshold at which brain cells immediately begin dying. These include the best P95 and N95 masks. Their crime wave really is susceptible to truth.

cargoguy

It has just been verified that the Trump Administration is withholding 14 billion in congress approve funds for testing. When is the governor and Mohave Heath officials are going to demand these funds to test our residents.

Fort Mohave Resident

We don't have to worry about the mask here in Bullhead City, Our Shady Brady and 2% Cotter won't do anything to jeopardize fattening the pockets by losing visitors. Brady and Cotter is to blame for the rapid spread of the Virus. They wanted to rush and hurry to open the town and flood the beaches and get little over 20K a weekend from their $20 a car parking.

Arizona Drifter

Positive step forward. I think we need to change the name of masks to Cough Catchers, or Sneeze Catchers. People just don’t seem get the point.

andironcounty

Tests prove effective.

DETOUR > US 66

"Tests prove effective?" At what, telling someone if they have this virus TODAY? The main reason all the "scientists" and blue govt. officials are "all testing, all of the time" is to prop up the numbers so that newspapers like this one can have a "COVID update" story EVERY day that will ensure everybody remains scared and afraid. You will notice that rarely are the "recovered" numbers even reported because that does not help their agenda. The blue state want to be able to hype "deaths" and "cases" so as to scare everybody every day into getting rid of "Orange Man Bad", that's what this dreaded and deadlier than ever flu scare has always been about.

Acleanerplanet

I hold Duecy accountable for the spike in cases of Covid19 for not having test kits available for Bullhead, Fort Mohave, and surrounding area. Sure we are a small town, but there was no excuse for him and the Arizona government to hold back testing. Now look at us,we have passed Lake Havasu and are about to pass

Kingman in total cases. Doesn't appear very many people of this community want to hold him accountable. Do you all believe Covid19 us just a hoax like your POTUS stated?

Fort Mohave Resident

Bullhead City own Mayor and awful City Manager don't wear mask at public functions so why would they enforce a mask ordinance. These two need to be removed form the City.

LynnT

I really wish politicians would educate themselves on this virus - there are many doctors who say masks are harmful, that there is no science proving they work (and I have yet to see a politician post the science), and that there are laws that protect those who medically cannot wear masks due to health conditions. The HIPPA law protects those people and there are fines for violating these laws. Only the Health Department has the right to tell anyone they must wear a mask. Masks are nothing but fear mongering. Even the new Florida statistics on this virus show it is not becoming worse as stated in the media (check the facts yourself before you believe what is on the news). Ventilators are killing people, not helping them (if Trump only knew the truth). Alternative doctors know how to cure this virus with no hospitalization for most - and facts are starting to show it is no worse than the regular flu. WAKE UP AMERICA - and stop the fear mongering. We were previously told to cough or sneeze into or sleeve - is that not good advice anymore? now we must wear a mask and limit our oxygen intake, breed bacteria in masks that cause health issues (one young lady developed lung issues (pleurisy) from wearing a mask 6 days a week 8 hours a day). Masks do nothing to protect anyone since the virus goes right thru them due to its minute size (if you are breathing air, you could breathe in the virus mask or not).

LynnT

COVID-19 can be transmitted between people who are standing more than four feet apart, even if they are wearing a mask, a new study has found.

The research, published in Physics of Fluids, notes that face coverings alone do not prevent droplets of fluid that are projected by a cough, a discovery the researchers called "alarming." It adds to the importance to also maintain proper social distancing measures, they said.

The same researchers found previously that droplets of saliva can travel 18 feet in five seconds when an unmasked person coughs, so masks are important. However, repeated coughs are likely to reduce their effectiveness, the experts found in the new study, using computer models.

DETOUR > US 66

"Masks are important?" At what, making sure the wearer re-breathes the Co2 back into their lungs that is expelled by every breath? Bottom line is 95% of the "face coverings" worn by a typical person are not effective at all except for maybe containing 25-50% of every cough or sneeze which will not prevent the virus transmission even slightly. Look at the nurses treating COVID patients. Not only do they wear professional PPE masks that cover their entire face and ears, but also PPE gear covering their entire body. What works is staying at least 10 feet away from everybody and not even in the same room or space when someone is coughing or sneezing.

Michael 777

Ducey is a gutless coward. And by reopening too soon he now has blood on his hands.

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