Pima County mask mandate expires for most people

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 6:48 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2022 at 6:49 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The mask mandate passed by the Pima County Board of Supervisor expired on Monday, Feb. 28 and will not be renewed or extended.

The mandate did not contain any enforcement, it was mostly voluntary and a reminder the county is still in a pandemic. It was also passed when the omicron variant was beginning to rage.

“As you know, it was mostly symbolic,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, the Pima County Health Director. “However, part of that symbolism is included, embedded in the recommendation that we believe is the best thing you can do.”

For two years, it’s recommended face masks as the best way to prevent the spread and keep people healthy.

“Just because the board of supervisors has made a decision that the mask mandate will go away, the recommendation remains the same from a public health perspective,” Dr. Cullen said. “As we know, while our numbers are significantly decreasing, they’re still considered to be in a time of high transmission.”

Even though the public mandate has expired, the county will vote whether to keep it in place for all of its public buildings and spaces for the time being. Health officials are recommending it as long as the county is considered in high transmission.

And the recommendation during high transmission, according the CDC, is to wear a mask indoors when six feet of space cannot be maintained.

Pima County, according to the CDC website is still In high transmission, 212 cases per 100,000 people.

In order to be classified as a medium county, which Maricopa County has achieved, the count would have to get to 100 cases per 100,000 people.

Still, under new guidelines released last week, the CDC says it can be as high as 200 cases per 100,000 people if certain hospitalization metrics are met.

But the news looks good for Pima County in the coming days.

“Maricopa is a little bit ahead, Pima County is a little bit behind, but within the next seven days, seven to ten days even Pima County is going to be below that 100 per 100,000 residents thresh hold,” said Dr. Joe Gerald, the Director of the University of Arizona Department of Health. “I would personally lie to see cases below 50 before we dropped some of our mitigation but if we did it below a hundred I could live with that too.”

The county is also considering whether to start holding meetings in person again It will vote on that tomorrow as well.

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