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Arizona to adopt new masking recommendations

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 9:47 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - New recommendations from the CDC asks the vaccinated and everyone in K-12 schools to mask up. This comes as the more transmissible Delta variant spreads across the U.S.

Department of Health Services director Dr. Cara Christ says 13 or Arizona’s 15 counties are either at substantial or high community transmission.

“So, the majority of counties in Arizona would fall into that guidance, which is whether you are fully vaccinated or not, the guidance is to resume wearing a mask when you are in public, indoors, with people you don’t live with,” Cara Christ said.

The state is updating its guidance to reflect the CDC’s new recommendations. Dr. Christ says going back to wearing masks is not a step in the right direction, but a decision that was not taken lightly.

“What we’re hoping is that we won’t see the increase in hospitalizations and deaths that we’ve seen with previous increases in cases. But we just want to make sure that everyone is taking the steps. I don’t see us enacting additional recommendations because we do know that masks and vaccinations work,” she says.

But, those under the age of 12 are still not eligible for the vaccine. With the majority of new cases from the unvaccinated, this causes some concern for going back to school.

Which is why the Superintendent of Pima County Schools, Dustin Williams, hopes the new recommendation will encourage more students and staff to wear their mask.

″Anything we can do to encourage people to wear masks, especially in these beginning semesters, is super important. It’s also an opportunity for Gov. Ducey to maybe think about rescinding his law on new mask mandates,” Williams said.

But Gov. Ducey says he will not backtrack on a new state law banning mask mandates at the city and county level, saying vaccines are the best protection against the virus.

Williams says the governor’s law puts too much restriction on schools when they have COVID breakouts.

″We’ve already had to close a fifth grade last week, we’ve only been in school a couple of weeks now. Schools need that option,” he said.

Williams says many parents and teachers have opted to wear masks. He says his two sons, both under the age of 12, will also mask up when they go back to school.

Dr. Christ says when state and county transmission rates are at moderate and low, the state health department will change their guidance for vaccinated people.

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